Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Los Angeles Clippers
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
|Charlotte||18-25||98.0 (27)||101.0 (7)||95.0 (21)|
|Los Angeles Clippers||29-14||107.2 (5)||101.1 (8)||98.2 (7)|
1/1/14 — 112-85 Clippers (@ LAC)
Charlotte: Jeff Taylor (OUT), Brendan Haywood (OUT)
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul (OUT)
|PG||Ramon Sessions||Darren Collison|
|SG||Gerald Henderson||J.J. Redick|
|SF||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Matt Barnes|
|PF||Josh McRoberts||Blake Griffin|
|C||Al Jefferson||DeAndre Jordan|
|6th Man||Anthony Tolliver||Jamal Crawford|
1- STATS. Technically, 23.9% of the Clippers offensive possessions (per MySynergySports.com) are initiated through the pick-and-roll — is PnR coverage the most important aspect to Charlotte’s defense tonight?
Spencer: No question. With the dynamic rim-runners (Griffin & Jordan) that the Clippers have + Darren Collison, who can create off the bounce in more ways than one, you can count of LAC depending on the PnR offensively.
On top of the fact that 23.9% of the Clippers offense comes off the PnR, 17.6% come from spot-up shooting — open spot-up shooters also come from the PnR sequence, so containing the ball on the PnR is extremely important because if you can’t do it extra helpers will have to become detached from the shooters that are spacing the floor.
Greg: I think it’s less of a concern with Chris Paul out, as Darren Collison obviously doesn’t have Paul’s creativity. The biggest key might be avoiding fouls: The Clippers are terrific at drawing contact, ranking second in the league at FT/FGA, and they’re actually averaging more free throws since Paul went down. The Bobcats will need to play smart defense to avoid giving L.A. bonus points at the line.
Doug Branson (PodCats Show): Certainly because the Clippers use the PnR to open up a variety of different looks. It’s not as simple as big man cutting through the lane looking for a dish. They use the PnR to get open outside looks for Blake Griffin and to draw defenses in, opening up opportunities for their 47 three point threats (*give or take). It’s not so much that we have to play GREAT PnR defense to win this game we just have to play CONSISTENTLY throughout the game. We can’t let them pull ahead in one quarter if we expect to hang around.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain: To an extent, but not to as great of one as if Chris Paul were playing. Darren Collison is solid, and is doing a decent job of filling in for CP3, but he does not have the court vision or play-making ability of Paul, and does not run the high pick-and-roll quite as effectively. So, while the ‘Cats still need to prepare for it, it will not be as big of a weapon as it would have been if Paul were playing. I would seeing keeping the Clips off the lines, both free-throw and three-point, is equally important this game. The Clippers do a good job of getting to getting to the foul line, and they like to attempt a lot of three’s. If the Bobcats can minimize the Clippers’ trips to the line and open three-point attempts, they should give themselves a shot.
2- MCBOB. In Josh McRoberts last 5 games he’s shooting 12-20 (60%) from behind the arc — Is McBob going to be the key ‘shot in the arm’ offensive performance tonight in order for the Bobcats to keep up, or are you looking elsewhere for a big night?
Spencer: McBob’s success offensively lately has definitely been a bi-product of this teams offensive resurgence, but to me it’s a combination of two other guys really stepping up to pick up the slack of missing Kemba — Anthony Tolliver & Jannero Pargo. If these two guys can manufacture 20 points off the bench tonight and in the next few weeks the Bobcats have a chance to win some games in Kemba’s absence.
Greg: McRoberts is most effective when he’s taking and making threes, and the Clippers have been good at defending that shot. They rank 16th in opponent 3PA and second in opponent 3P%. I think it’s more likely Al Jefferson has a big game: The Clippers give up a lot of attempts in the paint, and they’re just outside the bottom five in opponent FG% in the restricted area. With Kemba out, I’m expecting Al to take a lot of shots, and he should get pretty good looks.
Doug: McBob’s three point shooting has been the cherry on top but the big banana in this sundae has been Big Al Jefferson. He struggled last time out against this Clippers squad and DeAndre Jordan’s tough one on one defense. Big Al will have to make Jordan think early by opening some plays early for cutters like Ramon and Gerald if he expects to have a big night like he did against the Raptors. Also, Gerald will HAVE to shoot better than 4/11 from the field if we have any shot.
Michael: I’m looking elsewhere for a big night offensively. While McRoberts has been shooting the ball well from beyond recently, I wouldn’t rely on his steady production from long-range to win many games for this team. I would like to see Michael Kidd-Gilchrist step up and take a bigger share of the offensive load in Kemba’s absence, as it would be nice to see him attacking a Clippers’ defense that has some holes. A lot of the scoring load will likely come down to big Al Jefferson again however, who will have to use his craftiness to get some points in the paint against the Clips’ frontcourt.
3- BONUS. What’s up with Charlotte’s offensive explosion in the past 5 games? They’re better in just about every aspect of the game on the offensive end — shooting 47.7% (+3.6 net avg.), 41.5 3FG% (+6.7), getting to the foul line 30 times/game (+4.6) and averaging 26 assists/game (+5.9). What are you guys seeing differently?
Spencer: There’s a part of this success that’s a bit of an anomaly, but this roster is simply playing with confidence right now. When you factor in what McBob + Tolliver have done from behind the arc in the past 5 games — 20-38 (52.6%) — it’s easy to see how this could free up other guys and stretch the defense.
Greg: As you pointed out, McRoberts has been a help, and the team in general shot seven percent above its three-point average. Al Jefferson has been on fire, too, scoring 26.6 points on 58 percent shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds a game. Ball movement looks improved, with the team averaging 26 assists over that stretch vs. 20 for the year. A lot of good things happening at once, with a little bit of randomness thrown in there.
Doug: Guys seem to be finally understanding the inside-out offensive game plan that Clifford has put together. We’re seeing significantly less pull-up jump shots on the early side of the shot clock and much more movement around the baseline and off-ball screens. We don’t do it consistently, but it’s a start. It’s nice to see this Bobcats team resemble a professional basketball offense.
Michael: The frontcourt has stepped up a bit, with McRoberts shooting exceptionally well recently, and Al Jefferson continuing to pile in the points from the post. The offensive hasn’t seemed quite as stagnant, as the ball movement has been better, leading in turn to more assists and better opportunities. We will have to wait and see if the improvement is sustainable, but the Bobcats’ offense certainly has looked a little better as of late.
4- PICK IT. An opportunity for a statement win without Kemba in the lineup – can the ‘Cats do it?
Spencer: This game is winnable for Charlotte, but it’s going to take a near perfect performance. The Clippers can beat you in so many different ways, and without the floor general Kemba Walker, it’s obvious that some guys on this team are going to have to step up on both ends. To me, the key matchup in this game is Sessions vs. Collison – can Ramon will himself to play harder on the defensive end and limit LAC action going to the rim – that action is initiated through Collison putting the ball on the floor.
I’ll take the Clippers 102-96.
Greg: It’d be nice, but I doubt it. Charlotte doesn’t have anyone that matches up well with Blake Griffin, though it’ll be interesting to see if MKG gets a shot. The Clippers take a ton of threes, as well, even though they aren’t good at them. Recent play aside, I don’t think Charlotte has the offensive horsepower to keep up.
Doug: CAN THEY?! Absolutely, but it will take out of body performances from Big Al, Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions. Expect to see a lot of the starters tonight unless it gets out of hand. This Clippers team is firing on all cylinders offensively and now defensively so they will make life very difficult for this young offense. The key to this game will be all five guys…untying Jared Dudley’s shoes whenever possible. CLIPPERS WIN. Sorry.
Michael: It would be a nice victory, but I don’t see the Bobcats being able to keep up offensively. Maybe if MK-G steps up and has a big game, and the defense is able to limit the Clippers’ three-point and foul-shot attempts than Charlotte will have a shot. But, Blake Griffin might have a big evening with no real Cats’ counterpart, and realistically, without Kemba, the Bobcats may have a hard time keeping up.