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Game #72: Bobcats vs. Nets Preview — The Homestretch

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Brooklyn Nets

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 34-37 100.5 (23) 101.6 (8) 95.0 (21)
Brooklyn 37-32 103.9 (14) 104.1 (15) 93.8 (26)

Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Brooklyn: Andrei Kirilenko (OUT), Kevin Garnett (OUT), Brook Lopez (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Nets
PG Kemba Walker Deron Williams
SG Gerald Henderson Shaun Livingston
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Joe Johnson
PF Josh McRoberts Paul Pierce
C Al Jefferson Mason Plumlee
6th Man Gary Neal Andray Blatche

The Bobcats now trail their opponent tonight, Brooklyn, by four games in the standings. Ultimately,  it’s probably unrealistic to think we can catch the Nets with only eleven games left to play. That being said, a win tonight at home would split the season series with Brooklyn + keep Atlanta at bay, which now only trails Charlotte by two games for the 7th seed.

The Bobcats chances to catch Washington for the 6th seed are slim, but possible, considering the fact that the two teams play each other two more times before season’s end.

Digest all this and give us some thoughts on what tonight’s game means + how the Bobcats overcome a Brooklyn bunch who has been one of the better teams since the all-star break.

Spencer: First and foremost, if you haven’t already, read Zach Lowe’s article about how Rich Cho and the front-office have re-constructed this team from yesterday. Awesome perspective – points out the pros & cons of winning now, signing Jefferson to an expensive three-year deal, profits the franchise have seen + will see in future, etc.

Now, to tonight’s game and what comes for the Bobcats in the next few weeks. Every game is important from here-on-out. 1) It should still be priority #1 to catch Washington for the sixth seed. 2) Even if the Bobcats end up getting Miami in round-one, you have to enter that series with something that resembles momentum to have any chance at not being swept. I think this is important to Bobcat fans at this stage of the season.

As Brooklyn did last week with the small-ball lineup, they’re going to give the Bobcats some matchup problems. Basically, with the Nets going Pierce + Johnson at 3-4, it puts McBob on somewhat of an island – hard to expect for him to do a great job on either one of those guys.

Al Jefferson is going to play a major role tonight, as always, in order to get the Bobcats flowing on offense. Now, Jefferson can carry this team for the most part, but if the ball gets ‘sticky’ and guys don’t cut off the ball, as it’s been lately, Charlotte will struggle no matter who they’re playing. Clifford needs to address this point now, and I’m confident he will. Kemba & Jefferson are really the only guys on this roster who can simply go get buckets in one-on-one situations – the rest of the team needs to cut to open spots to manufacture some easy points and simply make the game easier.

I like the Bobcats to rebound tonight at home and split the season series with Brooklyn. 102-98 Charlotte.

Michael Kaskey-Blomain: Tonight’s battle with Brooklyn is a big one for the Bobcats. As stated, their chances of catching the Nets, who have been one of the league’s better teams since the start of the new year, are slim, but it would be good for their confidence to split the series with Brooklyn. Also, although it would be tough, catching the Wizards for that six spot is not completely out of the picture, and each win helps. The sixth seed would allow Charlotte to skip a first-round showdown with Miami, or Indiana.

If the Bobcats want to win tonight, they need to limit Brooklyn’s perimeter attack, and produce from the paint. If the wing guys can limit Paul Pierce’s and Joe Johnson’s production, the Nets will struggle to score. On the other end, they should feed Big Al early and often, and let him set the tone offensively for the team.

A win tonight would be important for several reasons, namely keeping pace with the Wizards, who have a 2.5 game lead over Charlotte, and keeping Atlanda at bay.