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Game #30: Bobcats vs. Thunder 2-on-3 Preview

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Oklahoma City Thunder

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 14-15 96.4 (29) 98.2 (3) 94.9 (24)
Oklahoma City 23-5 106.7 (4) 97.8 (2) 99.4 (3)


Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Oklahoma City:

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Thunder
PG Kemba Walker Russell Westbrook
SG Gerald Henderson Thabo Sefolosha
SF Anthony Tolliver Kevin Durant 
PF Josh McRoberts Serge Ibaka
C Al Jefferson Kendrick Perkins
6th Man Ramon Sessions Jeremy Lamb

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network

We had an early Christmas gift for everyone when QCH was able to get into the building to cover the unveiling of the new Hornets logo and tonight we’ll be front-and-center again. The Bobcats will host their final home game before setting off on a 5-game road swing tonight against one of the league’s best teams – Oklahoma City.

Tweet me (@QCHspencer) any questions that you have for Coach Clifford or any of the players and I’ll do my best to get them answered. Pre-game coverage will begin approximately at 5:45 pm, when Clifford gives his pre-game presser.

Alright, here we go — Dakota Schmidt and myself try and dig in to answer some of the key questions leading up to tonight’s matchup.

1- STATS. Charlotte and OKC are both top-3 defenses in the NBA, but the Thunder also carry a top-5 offense, whereas the Bobcats are in the cellar. Clearly, OKC is the better overall team here – is it as simple as taking care of the ball and limiting second chances for OKC in order for Charlotte to stay in this game?

Spencer: Both of these teams are top-5 in the league in percentage of their points that come from the free throw line — 20.1% of OKC points come from the stripe and Charlotte is just shy of that clip at 20%. The team that can play defense and contest shots without fouling is going to play a huge role tonight. On top of that, OKC does actually have one weakness, contrary to popular belief – the Thunder turn the ball over on 14.5% of their offensive possessions + that leads to their opponents getting 15.1 fast-break points/game (4th worst in the league). No, the Bobcats don’t want to get into a track meet with OKC, but they do have to find a way to get easy baskets and Kemba really looking to push the tempo off of Thunder turnovers will be important.

Dakota: Definitely. While it may be impossible for an MKG-less Bobcats team to stop a force like Durant, being able to be a more effective team could pull us closer to OKC.

2- CONTAINING DURANT. With Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor sidelined, what’s the plan to guard Kevin Durant tonight?

Spencer: Well, this will definitely be a question that I’ll ask Coach Cliff in the pre-game presser — I’d guess that the plan is to start Tolliver on KD, with Douglas-Roberts inheriting the role when he’s on the floor. With those two guys splitting the duties, it’s hard to imagine that Charlotte won’t double Durant more times than not, but at the same token, that’s not Clifford’s style defensively.

Dakota: While Steve Clifford probably would have a better plan than me, I still believe that I have a solid idea of how Charlotte could contain Durant. When it comes to his ability from the perimeter, Anthony Tolliver’s overall length could be enough to disrupt him. With that said, his main strength comes with his ability to work off the dribble which could be tough but the Bobcats have shown a solid ability in terms of closing the paint.

3- PICK IT. This will be Charlotte’s last home game before they set off on a 5-game road trip – can they upset the Thunder at home?

Spencer: This really is a huge game for Charlotte – even if they don’t come out of this one with a W, it’s important that they compete hard and go away from tonight with the feeling that they’ve improved in some fashion. The worst possible result to take on is a blowout loss at home right before a 5-game road trip across America. All that said, I’m taking the Thunder — 105-95.

Dakota: While I try to be hopeful and optimistic about this team on a game-by-game basis, I’m doubtful about the team’s chances against OKC. However, Charlotte has surprised me in the past (I.e win against Golden State) so I’m going try to go into the game expecting the unexpected.