Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Indiana Pacers
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
|Charlotte||27-33||99.3 (25)||101.6 (7)||95.3 (21)|
|Indiana||46-14||102.7 (18)||94.5 (1)||96.1 (16)|
Charlotte: Gerald Henderson (DTD), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
|PG||Kemba Walker||George Hill|
|SG||Gerald Henderson||Lance Stephenson|
|SF||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Paul George|
|PF||Josh McRoberts||David West|
|C||Al Jefferson||Roy Hibbert|
|6th Man||Gary Neal||Evan Turner|
1- The Bobcats last two opponents, although OKC & Miami, have scored 115+ points. Charlotte gets the east best, Indiana, tonight. The Pacers have won five of six and also put 100+ points in four of those games. What has to happen for the Bobcats to shore up things on the defensive end tonight against another league heavyweight?
Spencer: Getting back to playing as a unit defensively. Charlotte has been lit up on individual performances in the past few – Westbrook, Durant and Lebron. Tonight they’ll have to find a way to contain Paul George and it may come to bringing an extra defender for Clifford – not something he believes in doing, but elite individual offense beats elite individual defense just about every time in this league. Sometimes you have to be willing to adjust the scheme in respect of elite talent – it’s what Charlotte has elected not to do in the past two games vs. OKC and Miami.
Greg: I hope they got a good night’s rest. Charlotte actually started strong against the Heat on Monday, leading at the end of the first quarter and keeping things close at halftime, but they pretty clearly ran out of gas (and Lebron went supernova).
Tactically, it’s obviously a tough matchup. The Pacers are very good from mid-range, which puts them in good position to break some of the Bobcats’ defensive schemes. One area they do have a slight advantage is on free throws; the Pacers draw freebies at an average rate but do a very good job of converting them, while the Bobcats very rarely foul on defense. Taking away those free points will help, but the Bobcats still need a very strong offensive performance to compete.
Michael: The Bobcats need to lock down Indiana’s perimeter players. Jefferson and McRoberts will have their hands full with Hibbert and West, but if Charlotte wants to get a victory tonight they need to limit the offensive output of Paul George, Lance Stephenson, and Evan Turner.
Henderson and MK-G will have to put up a great effort on the defensive end, but if the can limit the Pacers’ point production, they should have a shot at a W.
2- Through three games, what’s your assessment of Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour? Pretty much what you thought, or will these two help/hurt the team in ways that were unforeseen prior to them stepping on the floor?
Spencer: Both have been what I expected up to this point.
Ridnour has been a little bit more careless with the ball than I expected through three games — 5 assists and 5 turnovers.
Neal gives the Bobcats rotation flexibility and spacing, as we all expected. He’s also a better ball-handler than most realized, I think, and does look to attack the rim knowing that teams have his shooting prowess scouted well. More versatile offensive player than advertised, probably.
Greg: About what I expected — Ridnour isn’t going to create much for you, but he’s been OK in limited minutes. He’s turned the ball over a little too much, but 40 minutes is too small of a sample to judge him on there.
Neal seems promising, especially if he can shore up his defense. He’s as good a shooter as advertised, but he’s also willing to put the ball on the floor and create. That hasn’t worked out as well, but he seems like he’ll be an aggressive offensive spark off the bench. Henderson’s defense, rebounding and size make him a better fit with the starting unit, but Neal at least gives them other options.
Michael: The Bobcats have gotten about what I expected out of their new acquisitions. Ridnour can provide some decent point play in small stretches, but his worth doesn’t go much further than that.
Gary Neal has been a little underwhelming so far, but he has shown signs of why the Bobcats wanted him. He spaces the floor and is a decent defender. Hopefully he gets slightly more accustomed to the team and his new role for the playoff push.
3- Two-part question: 1) Is this a must win for the Bobcats even though it’s against, technically, the best team in the NBA? 2) Who ya got?
Spencer: 1) I don’t quite believe it’s a must win, but from a psyche standpoint, I firmly believe that the Bobcats must play well tonight. Jefferson is doing all that he can through this tough stretch, but it’s time for Kemba to wake back up. This team hasn’t attained the success they have this season because they’re drastically inferior to the NBA’s best – tonight is an opportunity to open people’s eyes back up to that.
2) Indiana. They currently have the best record in the league and I do believe they’re the best team, with the most depth, on both ends of the floor.
Greg: 1. Not really. Despite the last three losses, they haven’t given up much ground in the playoff chase, and their schedule to close out the season is relatively easy. They should be able to bounce back. I think February’s four-game winning streak put people’s expectations out of whack; Charlotte’s barely sniffed .500 this year, and expecting them to beat both a top team and the schedule is a tall order. It’s OK if they drop this one.
2. The Pacers. They’re really good.
Michael: I wouldn’t say that this is a must-win for Charlotte, but it could certainly be seen as a statement game. The Bobcats aren’t necessarily expected to win, and a W could send a message to other teams in the East.
A loss wouldn’t be devastating, but three straight losses to the NBA’s top teams doesn’t generate a whole lot of fear or respect from the other awards they might be facing come playoff time.
Although I expect the Bobcats to keep it close, as they have been able to do, at least early on, in the end I expect the Pacers to pull it out. They just have too many offensive options and a dominant defense to match.