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Game #13: Bobcats vs. Suns 3-on-3 Preview

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Phoenix Suns

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Charlotte 6-6 93.7 (28) 99.1 (8) 94.3 (29)
Phoenix 5-6 100.7 (14) 98.6 (5) 98.6 (12)

Previous Meetings:

Charlotte: Al Jefferson (Questionable)
Phoenix: Eric Bledsoe (Questionable)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Suns
PG Kemba Walker Goran Dragic
SG Gerald Henderson Gerald Green
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist P.J. Tucker
PF Josh McRoberts Channing Frye
C Al Jefferson Miles Plumlee
6th Man Ramon Sessions Marcus Morris

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network 1- STATS. To pretty much anyone who follows NBA basketball, the fact that Charlotte and Phoenix are both top-10 defensive teams this season is a shocker. How are the Bobcats and Suns excelling on the defensive end?

Spencer: Both teams have been very good at protecting the rim and keeping teams at bay from deep. This is a testament to the coaching, probably more than anything else. Hornacek and Clifford have convinced their teams to sell out on the defensive end.

The Bobcats are extremely connected as a core, defensively, protecting gaps and closing out on shooters like a S.W.A.T. team. Although I haven’t gotten my eyes on Phoenix a ton early in the season, I’m going to assume it’s a lot of the same. Many times it comes down to effort on the defensive end and neither of these groups are lacking in that department currently.

Greg: I touched on this a little bit the other day, but the Bobcats have been very good at protecting the paint — they rank sixth in opponent FG% on shots within eight feet of the basket. They’re also doing a very good job on the defensive glass so far, ranking fourth in DRB%. That they’ve managed that without a dominant rebounder is a testament to the team’s effort and coaching.

 The Suns have also been very good at protecting the rim, holding opponents to the fourth-lowest FG% in the restricted area. They’ve combined that with good three-point defense, holding teams to the third-fewest attempts and the fifth-lowest 3P%. That shouldn’t bother the Bobcats too much, since they’re in the bottom five of three-pointers attempted.
Mathew: For Charlotte, it’s been protecting the rim. For all the things Bismack Biyombo struggles with (hint – offense), his impact is certainly felt on the defensive end, particularly around the rim. Opponents have only converted on 51% of attempts in the restricted area, a full 5.5% above League-average. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to improve on the wing as well.
For Phoenix, you can’t look past the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe and the ferocious on-the-ball defense he provides at the point. However, much of the Suns’ success can be attributed to protecting the rim as well, as they’ve allowed teams to convert only 50.8% of the time. Take notes, kids – protecting the rim is important.
2- SURPRISED? For better or for worse, who’s been the most surprising player on either of these rosters so far this season?

Spencer: I’m going to go with Gerald Green. He’s always been a high-flyer, but never an extremely efficient player overall. So far this season Green is averaging 15 PPG and sports a TS% of 64.6. Overall, Green has a PER of 17.07, significantly over the league average of 15.00. He’s been a nice shot in the arm for Phoenix so far this season, especially offensively. Although I doubt this continues throughout the year, it’s nice to see due to the fact that he’s failed to find a consistent home so far in the NBA – Green has played in 7 different cities in 6 seasons.

Greg: People were expecting Eric Bledsoe to be good, but few probably thought he’d be this good this fast. He’s upped his scoring (20.4 points on 50 percent shooting), assist rate, and rebounding (4.6 per game), and he’s an impact player on defense. All that effort and energy means he’s a bit mistake-prone, averaging 3.9 turnovers a game, but it’s still fun to watch.

Mathew: Markieff Morris. He’s really improved his efficiency so far this season, due in large part (which is weird to say in today’s game) to taking less 3-point attempts. A full 50% of his attempts have occurred at the rim so far this season, where he’s cashing in at an astounding rate of 65.9% (50.4% last season). He’s still not a prototypical 4, and he may well develop a better stroke from deep with time, but right now he’s reaping the benefits of a big man’s traditional shot selection.

3- PICK IT. Charlotte goes for their second straight win + an above .500 record while Phoenix is trying to avoid their 5th straight loss. Who ya got?

Spencer: Charlotte. The Suns are reeling, losers of 4 straight. Charlotte, on the other hand, will be fighting to get back over .500 tonight + is likely getting Al Jefferson back.

Greg:  I think it’s Charlotte. Phoenix doesn’t rebound well on either end of the floor, and they’ve only got one road win so far. They’re turnover-prone, too, which Charlotte should be able to take advantage of. Have a nice Friday, everyone.

Mathew: Bobcats. I think another close game is in line, as these teams are pretty well matched. The Suns shoot a lot of threes, an aspect of defense the Bobcats have struggled with over the past few seasons. If they can limit the Suns open attempts I think a victory is likely.