Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Toronto Raptors
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Away Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
|Charlotte||14-50||100.8 (29)||111.6 (30)||91.5 (17)|
|Toronto||25-40||105.8 (14)||107.6 (23)||90.5 (24)|
Charlotte: Ramon Sessions (OUT), Byron Mullens (day-to-day)
Boston: Rudy Gay (day-to-day), Andrea Bargnani (OUT)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Kyle Lowry|
|SG||Gerald Henderson||DeMar DeRozan|
|SF||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Rudy Gay|
|PF||Josh McRoberts||Amir Johnson|
|C||Bismack Biyombo||Jonas Valanciunas|
|6th Man||Ben Gordon||Alan Anderson|
1- STATS: For the most part, neither of these teams sticks out in a positive way statistically. Toronto (12.7) and Charlotte (13.0) are both top-5 in the league in Turnover Ratio. Is the team that causes more turnovers the favorite tonight?
Greg: It’s definitely possible, but I’m not sure how much it would benefit Charlotte. The Bobcats aren’t particularly good at forcing turnovers, ranking 21st in TOV%. When they do force mistakes, they aren’t always great at taking advantage of it. Only 15.2 percent of Charlotte’s offense comes off of turnovers, which is 28th in the league.
It could come down to free throw shooting — both teams are skilled at drawing fouls, ranking in the top ten in FT/FGA. If that does decide the game, Charlotte likely holds the edge. Toronto fouls like crazy, rating dead last (by a pretty wide margin) in opponent free throw attempts.
Blake Murphy, Raptors Republic: If that’s the case, the Bobcats probably win. The Raptors rank highly but have dropped to middle of the pack since dealing Jose Calderon, including 17 turnovers against Boston on Wednesday night. Jonas Valanciunas’ turnovers are an acceptable part of learning in the post, but Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay haven’t taken great care of the ball lately either. The biggest change has been DeMar DeRozan, who had a nice tidy turnover rate before but has turned the ball over on one extra possession a game since Gay came in. I don’t fault the players individually, really, as Dwane Casey’s sets lack movement and proper spacing, forcing a lot of one-on-one play and late bail-out passes.
2- RUDY GAY: Toronto is better on the offensive and defensive end of the floor when Rudy Gay is in the game. Gay ON floor: Offensive Rating- 103.4; Defensive Rating- 98.6. Gay OFF floor: Offensive Rating- 96.2; Defensive Rating- 109.5. There’s been some criticism dealt Toronto’s way about doing this trade. Assess.
Greg: Gay’s impact on the court is almost secondary due to his salary. His cap hit makes it very difficult for Toronto to make any big moves in the next two seasons — they’re already essentially locked in for next year’s team, with over $67 million already committed. They’ve gone 9-10 since the trade. How much better can they reasonably expect to get?
Blake: Yeah, people don’t love it, myself included. But my issue was more with the loss of roster flexibility and overpaying a good-not-great player more than anything. Has Gay really improved the team? While the on/off court numbers support it, the Raptors are actually the pretty similar before and after the deal as a whole (-2.1 points per 100 possessions before, -0.5 since per NBA.com Stats tool), and that improvement is owed at least in part to a friendlier schedule in that stretch. The biggest issue is Gay’s shot selection, as he’s shooting a terrible percentage (37.9%) and can’t hit a three to save his life (23.5%) but continuing to fire from everywhere. Again, some of it is the lack of offensive creativity from the bench, but a good deal of the blame comes down to his decision making, too. Maybe the Raptors are a bit better with Gay in the fold, but he’s got a long way to go to “changing the franchise” as was hoped.
3- PICK IT: Don’t say this often (or ever), but the Bobcats are coming off a 26-point beat down of the Celtics on Tuesday night. The Raptors lost by 24 in Boston one night later. Who you got?
Greg: I’ll take the Raptors. Charlotte’s defense looked good for stretches against the Celtics, but they haven’t been able to play with any consistency this season. I’ll buy in when they can string together a few competitive games.
Blake: I’m going to say Toronto, because the tanking is strong with Charlotte. Of course, they’ve got a nice cushion for that bottom spot, but the Raptors don’t really have much incentive to tank (their pick is top-three protected, and a top-three selection is a long shot now) and SHOULD want to bounce back with a win.