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Game #74: Bobcats vs. Wizards — The must-win of must-wins

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Washington Wizards

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 38-35 100.8 (23) 101.8 (8) 94.9 (21)
Washington 35-38 102.9 (18) 102.7 (11) 95.7 (17)

Charlotte: Gary Neal (Probable), Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Washington: Trevor Ariza (Questionable)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Wizards
PG Kemba Walker John Wall
SG Gerald Henderson Bradley Beal
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Martell Webster
PF Josh McRoberts Trevor Booker
C Al Jefferson Marcin Gortat
6th Man Gary Neal Andre Miller


It’s still a long-shot, but Charlotte trails Washington by three games with eight remaining. I’m stating the obvious by testifying that the Bobcats must absolutely win this game tonight if they want even a shot to stay alive for the six seed – we’ll see the Wiz in D.C. again next Wednesday.

Recently, John Wall has done what we (and Marshawn Lynch) would call ‘put the team on his back’. Wall is averaging 23.2 PPG, 48% FG, 49.1% 3FG in the past ten games. Kemba will start on Wall, but it’s fair to presume that won’t last – what’s the approach to guarding JW and is it the key for a big time win against the Wiz tonight?

Spencer: Yeah, Clifford will have to show JW some different looks tonight. Kemba will start on him, but I’d guess that Hendo, CDR and MKG, if it gets real bad, will have a crack at it. I think the key to containing Wall is to keep him out of transition, which is one of the Bobcats strengths – they don’t send a ton of guys to the offensive glass in order to corral the opposition and force them to execute in the half-court. Clifford has shown the willingness to blitz dynamic PG’s with McBob while zoning the remaining frontcourt. If JW gets going tonight, it will be interesting to see if he elects for this approach again to get the ball out of Wall’s hands.

It sounds like the Wizards could be without Ariza tonight, which is big due to how important he is for their offensive output. Wall will take on that much more of a scoring role because of Ariza’s absence and probably elevate his offensive mindset – I think Charlotte has a chance to bait him into bad shots. Again, just don’t let the guy gets into the open floor + be sound in the PnR. If you’re Kemba, I’d say it’s his best bet to go under the screen and for the screener’s man to hedge out hard – this requires solid defensive rotation behind the PnR (show-and-recover).

If Ariza doesn’t play tonight, I like the Bobcats chances. If he does, I’ll take Washington.

Greg: Forcing Wall to take mid-range shots will probably be key — he shoots below average between the arc and the rim, and it’s where you want opponents taking shots anyway. The Bobcats’ defense encourages attempts from that area, so it’ll be interesting to see if Wall takes the bait. They’ll need to be especially careful from long range, as Wall’s three-point shooting has improved this year and he’s showing a lot of confidence in it.

Michael Kaskey-Blomain: The best way to throw John Wall off of his game is to play him physically and force him to settle for shots. Sure, that is easier said than done, but the Bobcats’ defense can do a good job of eliminating paint penetration, Wall’s most effective means of offense. If the ‘Cats throw a bigger body at Wall, someone like Hendo, and make it difficult for him to get into the paint they might have a shot to take him out of his comfort zone, and alter the Wizards’ offense attack entirely. Needless to say, this would be a big win for the Bobcats.