Tonight, Charlotte welcomes in a dangerous Memphis squad that is gearing up for another playoff run. Rudy Gay has been playing his best basketball of the season for the Grizzlies, averaging 24.6 PPG & 7 RPG while shooting 48% from the field in his past five games. On paper, Derrick Brown will draw the assignment of guarding Gay, but expect to see Henderson matched up on him, defensively, as well. Marc Gasol, the Grizz anchor inside, will be questionable tonight as he was on Wednesday night. Gasol ended up playing on Wednesday at home against New Orleans, but my gut tells me that he’ll rest tonight against the Bobcats.
The Bobcats will be without D.J. Augustin again tonight and the drama between Paul Silas and Tyrus Thomas will certainly limit Thomas’ minutes, if he’s even activated for the game. Reggie Williams should also be out again tonight and looks to possibly return next week.
For all you optimistic Bobcats fans out there that believe this team will avoid a league worst record, you’re apparently not alone. Michael Wilbon claimed on PTI (Pardon The Interruption) that he likes the Bobcats chances tonight at home- “I think tonight may be the night. I give them a 40% chance at home tonight,” says Wilbon.
So, let’s get to it. Bryan Wendland and I tackle some of the questions leading into tonight’s game.
1- What’s the best matchup to watch for tonight?
Spencer Percy: Rudy Gay and whatever Bobcat gets the assignment to guard him. Whether it be Derrick Brown or Gerald Henderson, I don’t think it’ll go well for either of them.
Bryan Wendland: I’m most interested in the Biyombo/Gasol matchup in the paint. Biyombo’s had his ups and downs this year, but it’d be great if he can finish off the season on a strong note. That all starts tonight against a guy who knows how to use a pump fake and can pull Biyombo away from the basket.
2- Dante Cunningham, who was a solid contributor for Charlotte after the Gerald Wallace trade last season, is now in Memphis where he’s averaged 5 PPG & 3.8 RPG off the bench for the Grizz. If the Bobcats front office would have matched Memphis’ offer sheet in the off-season would Charlotte be clear of a NBA worst record, or would Cunningham not have meant that much?
Spencer: Cunningham would have been worth at least one more win than the team already has, so yes, he would have helped Charlotte avoid a league worst record. Cunningham would have been a starter in either Biyombo or Mullens place and helped this team drastically defensively and in the rebounding category.
Bryan: If we’re talking worst all time (by winning percentage anyway) he might have helped keep Charlotte out of that discussion. But with all the injuries and just flat out disgusting basketball the Bobcats have endured this year I don’t think he would’ve been enough to push them out of last place this year.
3- Let’s say the Bobcats shoot at least 47% from the field, finish less than -5 in rebounding and limit turnovers to 10 or less. What’s the end result if the stats looked like this for Charlotte, tonight?
Spencer: They’ll win. If somehow the Bobcats are able to stay close in the rebounding category with one of the biggest front lines in the league, they will have a great chance to win. Gasol (if he plays), Speights and Randolph will likely dominate around the rim in this game, but if the stats on the final box score look like the question above suggests then it will mean that Charlotte limited Memphis’ chances around the rim, was aggressive defensively and moved the ball well on the offensive end.
Bryan: I think the key stat there is turnovers. I don’t think it’s possible but if Charlotte can limit those to 10 or less, the final score should be limited to 10 or less as well.