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Bobcats vs Sixers Preview: 3-on-3

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Philadelphia 76ers

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Charlotte 7-7 96.2 (27) 102.2 (18) 96.1 (5)
Philadelphia 9-6 98.8 (23) 99.5 (8) 93.4 (25)

Previous Meetings:

Charlotte: Gerald Henderson (OUT), Tyrus Thomas (OUT)
Philadelphia: Andrew Bynum (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats 76ers
PG Kemba Walker Jrue Holiday
SG Ramon Sessions Evan Turner
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Jason Richardson
PF Byron Mullens Thaddeus Young
C Brendan Haywood Spencer Hawes
6th Man Jeffery Taylor Spencer Hawes

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network Bobcats and Sixers match-up for the first time this season tonight in the ‘Cable Box’. After Charlotte’s surprising 7-5, the Bobcats have come back to earth after being humbled by the Thunder and edged by the Hawks on Wednesday night. Will Charlotte rebound tonight, or will the losing streak continue? QCH is here to preview it for you.

1- STATS: Philadelphia doesn’t jump off the stat sheet at you with much. Generally, Doug Collins rule is to slow the game down, get quality possessions and, most importantly, defend. The parallel to that is the Sixers only using 93.4 (25th) possessions/game, opposed to the Bobcats 96.1 (5th). Both of these teams value the ball, but especially Phila, who only turns it over on 12.2% (2nd) of their possessions. It seems inevitable that the Bobcats will be forced to execute in the half court more than they’re comfortable tonight- how is Charlotte going to get the most out of their sets and get quality shots against this stingy Phila defense/tempo?

Spencer: The easy answer is that Kemba, Sessions and Gordon will be on the floor more together tonight to put more scorers on the court and make the defense work. On that same note, the Bobcats have got to move with and without the basketball as Phila will likely do a good job at closing off driving lanes. Not only will going guard heavy help Bobcats put more scorers on floor for executing in the half court, but it will also help Charlotte push the tempo and hopefully dictate the pace.

Greg: It’ll be important for the two rookies to limit their fouls and maximize their time on the court. MKG and Taylor have combined for almost seven fouls a game over the last five contests, and that includes the blowout against OKC where the pair barely played in the second half. Taylor has struggled in particular, fouling at least five times in three of those games. The offense is significantly more efficient when Kidd-Gilchrist is on the floor (a 99.2 offensive rating for the team when he’s on the court vs. 92.5 when he’s off it, according to NBA.com), and Taylor’s shooting is quickly becoming an important piece of the team’s attack. By staying out of foul trouble, they’ll give Dunlap a full arsenal to exploit specific matchups. The Bobcats will get a little help from Philly, at least; the 76ers haven’t done a great job of drawing fouls, ranking 24th this year in FT/FGA.

Mathew: Both of these squads have outperformed the advanced stats to date, with the 9-6 Sixers (-1.1 Net Efficiency Differential) and the 7-7 Bobcats (-3.0 Net Efficiency Differential) ranking in the bottom half of the League in Net Efficiency Differential (per hoopdata.com), yet currently boasting playoff-caliber records. As Spencer notes, however, the Sixers are a strong defensive team that relies on controlling turnovers and pace. The Bobcats will more than likely need to shoot well from 3-point range and get to the line with regularity to have relative success against Philadelphia in the half court. Does Ben Gordon have anything left in the tank after Wednesday night’s barrage?

2- Kemba vs Holiday: It’s obvious that Jrue Holiday is the better player of the two at this point and is having an all-star type of year so far, averaging 18.5 PPG & 9.1 APG. Kemba, on the other hand, has had a very tough stretch of late- in his last 5 games, Kemba is averaging 12.4 PPG, 6.2 APG, 2.8 turnovers/game & shooting just 30.4%. Who’s gets the better of who tonight? Why?

Spencer: I think it’s pretty simple with Kemba- teams are keying in on him and making it a point to take away his dribble-drive. When Kemba isn’t able to get into the lane, he becomes far less effective and begins to force many shots. For one, he needs to learn how to get the ball out of his hands more towards the end of the shot clock- Hendo will help that cause when he gets back. Jrue Holiday is a baller. Bottom line. He’s turning it over at an alarming rate this season- 4.4/game, but most of that has to do with the fact that the Sixers are literally running everything through Holiday on the offensive end- 26.1% Usage Rate (16th in NBA). I do believe that Kemba will have a better game tonight and come out of his funk. I also believe that Jeff Taylor will matchup with Holiday, defensively to start the game. Dunlap used this strategy putting Taylor on Jeff Teague Wednesday night. All that being said, Taylor will slow Holiday down offensively and I just a drift that Kemba will figure it out from the field tonight. I’m taking Walker with the better performance.

Greg: It’s been a little ugly watching Kemba over this recent stretch. On the one hand, it’s positive that he’s not settling for jumpers and is still driving hard to the basket; on the other hand, he seems to be playing a little out of control, hoisting up prayers too often and relying on the refs to bail him out with a whistle. Credit goes to Dunlap for sticking with him while he plays through this rough patch, but it might be time to give Ramon a few more minutes in the rotation for now.

Jrue will probably have a good night; he’s got a solid all-around offensive game, shooting 40% from three, and averaging just under four free throws. He’s been turnover-prone this year, though, with 4.4 giveaways a game. If Charlotte can put enough pressure on him, they have a chance at limiting his effectiveness.

Mathew: Holiday. Jrue appears to have made the leap this year, turning into one of the ten best PG’s in the game. He’s getting to the line more often, improved his three-point shooting, and has almost doubled his assists per 36 minutes. Look for Holiday to work out of the post a lot on offense as Kemba will have a difficult time dealing with his size/length. Kemba’s only real advantage at this point is quickness, which hopefully he will be able to take advantage of on the offensive end.

3- PICK IT: Bobcats come into tonight off of two losses and the Sixers come in off of two wins. It’s the first of four meeting between the two this season- who makes it 1-0 in the series tonight, and why?

Spencer: Bobcats. They’ll figure it out against a below average Sixers offensive team and find a way to get enough easy baskets to put Phila in a hole early. Wishful thinking, huh? Yeah, I think so too.

Greg: The two teams have a lot of similarities, making their hay on defense and struggling to generate offense, but I think Charlotte has a chance to eke out a close, ugly win. The Bobcats’ biggest flaw this year has arguably been their defensive rebounding; they’re 29th in the league, grabbing only 70% of available defensive boards. The 76ers aren’t in a great position to take advantage of that, as they’re one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the league. Charlotte has looked better at home (5-3) than they have on the road (2-4), and they have a good shot at building on that record tonight.

Mathew: Bobcats. The  Bobcats regained some of their confidence in a narrow defeat to Atlanta on Wednesday night (coming off the trashing by OKC), which should help them in tonight’s contest. A Friday night home crowd after two on the road shouldn’t hurt either. The Sixers are not a terrible matchup for the Bobcats, as they primarily feature a smaller front-court which should allow Dunlap to play an athletic lineup with MKG at the 4 more often tonight. If he can limit Thaddeus Young it will go a long way towards earning the Bobcats a win.