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Bobcats vs Rockets Preview: 3-on-3 with Red94

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Houston Rockets

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 2:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Charlotte 10-30 98.8 (28) 108.2 (30) 94.6 (11)
Houston 21-21 104.4 (9) 104 (20) 99 (1)

Previous Meetings:

Charlotte: Byron Mullens (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Rockets
PG Kemba Walker Jeremy Lin
SG Gerald Henderson James Harden
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Chandler Parsons
PF Hakim Warrick Marcus Morris
C Bismack Biyombo Omer Asik
6th Man Ramon Sessions Patrick Patterson

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network 1- STATS: This is going to be an up-tempo game that will likely be decided by the team who generates more easy buckets. Houston leads the league in PACE (99.0), but they also turn the ball over more than any other team in the NBA — 15 TO/game. The Bobcats like to play fast when they can, but tomorrow that tempo will likely play right into Houston’s hands. What’s the key stat for both teams to be successful tomorrow?

Brett: Considering the Rockets are run by the “Dork Elvis” Daryl Morey, this should come as no surprise, but here goes:  The Rockets take the least efficient shots in basketball less than any other team.  So far this season, 40% of their attempts each game are at the rim, 34% are threes, and just 26% are from in between.  The next closest team is Denver, with 32% of their attempts from midrange.  This attacking of the paint leads to buckets of free throw attempts for the Rockets and the Bobcats will have to defend without fouling to have a chance.

Jeff: The key stat for this game is how well each team shares the ball and gains assists. Each team prefers to play an up-tempo style game. The Rockets, under the tutelage of Kevin Mchale, have really learned the art of ball rotation. They mirror the Spurs as far as moving the ball from side to side and finding the open man on the perimeter. The Spurs lead the league in assists but the Rockets are not far behind, with 22.5 assists per game, earning them the 4th spot in the league. The credit is mostly due to their backcourt, Lin and Harden.  They average 11.5 assists per game between them. The Bobcats are 29th in the league in assists, but have few perimeter players to knock down shots. Lately, I have noticed an improvement in willingness to pass the ball, but the Cats have been inconsistent in knocking the perimeter and mid-range shot. We rank 27th in the league with a lowly 42.5% team field goal percentage. Sometimes, it just comes down to making shots. The Rockets are second, only to OKC, in points per game, with 104.5. The Cats will really have to step up on defense and take on the challenge of the onslaught that Houston can bring any given night. If the Cats can convert the Rockets’ turnovers into points, we may have a chance against this Houston offense.

Michael Pina (Red94): The obvious stat in a game like this is turnovers, but I think whoever keeps the opposing team off the offensive glass more will prevail in the end. The Rockets have lost seven straight games, and in order for them to get back on track, Omer Asik and the rest of their front court crew will need to pound the glass and limit Charlotte’s young, athletic team from getting more than one offensive opportunity.

2- YOU’RE A STAR? Red94 — The Rockets traded for presumed superstar James Harden and then gave him a max contract. What’s your assessment as to how it’s worked out so far and where it goes in the future? QCH — The rumor mill has the Bobcats being seriously interested in trading for Rudy Gay. He’s already a max contract player, but many believe he’s not at that level. Would it be wise for the Cats to deal for him and what would be a reasonable deal?

Brett: No, it would not, because Gay has two more years left on his deal at $18MM and then $19MM (roughly, and courtesy of ShamSports.com).  Oh, and he plays the same position as the Bobcats’ future best player, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  Gay is a very good player, but overpaid, and just doesn’t have a spot on the Bobcats roster.  Trading for him would likely require MKG or Kemba, and would represent a shift from the team’s patient rebuilding process back to the “win now” mindset (or at least the “make it to .500” mindset) that got the Bobcats into a bad spot financially, with a roster that was good enough for the first round and no more.

Jeff: Memphis is really interested in opening up some cap space with the new CBA rules coming into effect. The Memphis brass are really high on their frontcourt duo of Gasol and Randolph. And why not? Both are expected to be all-stars this season and for good reason. And Mike Conley is blossoming into an excellent young guard that can pass the ball and shoot the outside jumper. The Grizzlies consider Gay their one tradable piece, but have recently pulled back negotiations with teams at the shock of what others are willing to offer for Gay. Figuring that the nucleus of Conley, Gasol, and Randolph will be their future, the Grizz now look to acquire some young talent and picks. The good thing for Charlotte is we have just that. With the exception of MKG and Kemba, our most valuable trade assets are Hendo and Biyombo. Hendo could easily gain a starting role on the Grizzlies, while Biyombo could come off the bench for defensive production and shot blocking, Although, I highly doubt the front office of the Bobcats are willing to give up both players meaning our draft picks begin to become highly coveted. To pay the price on acquiring a player like Gay, the Cats must be willing to give up some first-rounders.  However, Gay will instantly help the Cats win games and can combine with Kemba and MKG to create a solid nucleus for the team to build around. The problem is Gay has 2 years remaining on his contract and there is no gurantee he will re-sign long term with the Cats. Overall, for the price we would have to pay, it would not be a good move for the Cats in the long run.

Michael: Houston’s decision to trade for James Harden was necessary, crucial, and—if you want to get extreme about it—likely a job-saving transaction for Daryl Morey. It literally took Harden one game to establish himself as a legitimate first option, and what we’ve seen through half the season is him emerge as one of the NBA’s premier offensive talents. The Bobcats are in the middle of rebuilding their franchise. Moving forward they have several young players with potential on rookie deals (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Jeff Taylor) and loads of cap space. Blowing their cap flexibility on Rudy Gay would be a major mistake by Charlotte management, and it shouldn’t be explored in any shape or form.

3- PICK IT: Bobcats or Rockets? Charlotte has had good and bad performances mixed from night-to-night lately while Houston stumbles into the Queen City on a 7-game losing streak.

Brett: I’ll take the Rockets, as their 7 game losing streak includes dropping contests on the road to Boston and Indiana (and the home loss was to the Clippers).  The Bobcats struggle against potent offenses and Houston has a solid one, with the 9th highest offensive efficiency in the league.  Oh, and a pretty good paint patroller in Omer Asik (I was going to say rim protector, but he doesn’t block many shots – but he’ll have a defensive impact), which will cause issues for the Bobcats’ offense, which relies on getting to and scoring in the paint.

Jeff: The high-powered offense of the Rockets will be too much for the Bobcats. The Cats defense has been less than satisfactory and with fewer minutes allotted to youngsters like MKG, the Cats have no one other than Kemba to really score in bunches. Houston wins 103-92.

Michael: I’d like to think the Rockets can snap their seven game losing streak against a 10 win team. And by tomorrow evening that’s exactly what should happen, with Harden shooting better than 28% from the floor; something he’s failed to do in Houston’s past three games.