Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Cleveland Cavaliers
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
|Record||Offensive Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency||Pace|
|Charlotte||28-33||99.6 (25)||101.5 (7)||95.2 (21)|
|Cleveland||24-38||99.9 (24)||104.9 (20)||95.5 (20)|
Charlotte: Gerald Henderson (OUT), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Cleveland: C.J. Miles (DTD), Anderson Varejao (OUT)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Kyrie Irving|
|SG||Chris Douglas-Roberts||Jarrett Jack|
|SF||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Luol Deng|
|PF||Josh McRoberts||Tristan Thompson|
|C||Al Jefferson||Spencer Hawes|
|6th Man||Gary Neal||Alonzo Gee|
- For starters, listen to Al Jefferson talk on ESPN radio late Wednesday night after the Bobcats beat Indiana. Arguably, Charlotte’s biggest win of the season. Jefferson talks about how the team has overachieved most people’s expectations this season and why he hopes he’s paving a way for another big time free-agent to come to Charlotte. Oh, he also talks about MJ as an owner. Exciting stuff.
- Tonight, the Bobcats will have a fight on their hands. Jodie Valade, a Cavs beat writer explains why tonight + Cleveland’s games this weekend are must-wins. Reading this, I’ll go ahead and presume that this team is going to play with some grit tonight.
- This is a huge game for both teams tonight. As Valade points out, Cleveland essentially needs it to keep Charlotte within sight, but if the Bobcats can find a way to get a result tonight they will have wrapped up the tie-breaker with the Cavs on the season.
- Al Jefferson should wake up foaming at the mouth this morning – Spencer Hawes is likely going to start on him defensively, and if that isn’t as much of a mismatch that Big Al is going to see then I’m not sure what is. Hawes has never been very interested on the defensive end of the floor. The double-team is surely coming Jefferson’s way, but to an extent, the Cavs just really have to pray that he has an off night. I don’t really see a scenario where Jefferson doesn’t ‘get his’, so to speak, tonight.
- Kemba vs. Kyrie is always fun, and expect to see much of the same tonight. Irving has been good in his past 5 — 25.8 PPG, 7.8 APG, 4.8 RPG, 49.5 FG%, 41.4 3FG%. Kemba hasn’t been as consistent, but he’s coming off an impressive 19 points + 9 assists performance against Indiana Wednesday night. The winner of this one-on-one matchup could very well tell us what team is ultimately successful tonight.
- Charlotte and Cleveland are much more similar than they are different: from a efficiency standpoint offensively, these two teams are pretty close to identical. Which is to say not great. Both teams also play at a very similar, slow, pace. In most matchups, it benefits the Bobcats and Cavs to slow the game down every opportunity that they have. Not all, but most. Tonight will portray itself as a game that is played to the tempo/pace of the team that throws the first punch. I’d say that if the Bobcats can get out and play fast, do it every opportunity that you have.
- A few things on the Cavs tonight: 1) trending up with their three-point shooting in the past 5 — 38.9% (+3.5) – being disciplined and staying attached to shooters will be important. Kemba will have to do a good job of keeping Kyrie in front on him and keep Irving settling for jump-shots – bringing extra defenders off-the-bounce is certainly one of Irving’s strengths, but Kemba is plenty quick of keeping him in front. 2) Cleveland hasn’t been getting to the foul line very often in the past 5 — 19.0 trips/game (-4.0). The Bobcats are one of the best teams in the league at guarding without fouling – 4th best (opponent’s take 19.9 FTA/game).
- I thought Wednesday was a game that the Bobcats didn’t necessarily have to win, but they had to play well – they did. Tonight, Charlotte can’t afford a letdown. This is a must-win. It’s the time of the year where some teams will start trending in the right direction and build confidence leading into the playoffs – others will do the exact opposite. The toughest stretch of the schedule has passed and it’s time for this team to decide what they want to be.
- Prediction: 96-88 Bobcats.