Game #79: Bobcats @ Celtics -- Momentum over everything. New PodCats! |

Game #79: Bobcats @ Celtics — Momentum over everything. New PodCats!

Who: Boston Celtics vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Celtics Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at TD Garden, Boston, MA

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Boston 23-55 99.4 (29) 105.0 (20) 95.7 (17)
Charlotte 40-38 101.1 (23) 101.2 (6) 94.8 (21)

Injuries:
Boston: Kris Humphries (Questionable)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Celtics Bobcats
PG Rajon Rondo Kemba Walker
SG Avery Bradley Gerald Henderson
SF Jeff Green  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Brandon Bass Josh McRoberts
C Jared Sullinger Al Jefferson
6th Man Jerryd Bayless Gary Neal

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It’s officially a debate — are the Bobcats better off playing Indiana in the first round as a seven seed (assuming the Pacers end up second) rather than seeing Toronto/Chicago? Doug Branson and myself debated on PodCats Wednesday + we previewed Bobcats-Wizards, where I think it’s safe to say we were quite accurate.

Programming note: We’ll be LIVE tonight at 6:30 PM ET. Listen here.

  • Charlotte goes for their sixth straight win tonight in Boston and will look to keep the momentum going with just four games remaining in the regular season. Technically, the Bobcats are still alive for the fifth seed, but they’d obviously need a lot of help as Brooklyn currently sits three games ahead in the standings. Washington, who has an identical record with Charlotte but have lost the tie-breaker, will play in Orlando. Very winnable games for both the Bobcats and Wizards tonight as they jockey for the sixth seed.
  • Boston has lost 14 of their past 15 games. It’s clear that the Celtics are folding the tent (AKA: tanking) and the effort, or lack thereof, has started on the defensive end. In the past 15 games Boston has a defensive rating of 111.7 (+6.7 from season avg.). Not good. At all. It’s been clear for quite awhile that Rajon Rondo is unhappy with the direction of the franchise and I’m not sure that I’d call the Rondo-Brad Stevens mixture oil & water, but you get the picture. The effort simply isn’t there from this squad right now and the reasons why are obvious from the front office to the actual play on the court.
  • Tonight is the rubber-match in the three-game season series between these two. Both have won on each other’s floors. The Celtics have actually been somewhat effective in guarding Al Jefferson. Relatively speaking. Jefferson is avg. 18 PPG + 7 RPG on 45% shooting in two games against Boston. Jared Sullinger certainly has his hands full with Big Al, but the horse that is Brandon Bass gives a lending hand and the length of Jeff Green really helps get Jefferson off of the glass.
  • Kemba vs. Rondo will be an interesting matchup to keep an eye on. Obviously, Rondo has a height advantage on Kemba. Don’t be surprised to see Stevens draw up some action to get Rondo ISO’d around the basket against Kemba.
  • Charlotte must make it a point to get the ball to the rim against what has been a pathetic Boston defense recently. The Bobcats have become rather lazy in this category recently – only 35.6 PITP in the past 5 games – that’s 4.5 PITP/game less than their season avg. The team has been 37.3% from behind-the-arc in the past 5, which is +1.9% from season avg., but that’s likely an outlier and isn’t sustainable. Get the ball to the rim in order to setup the defense for open three-point shots – one of the oldest concepts in the book.
  • The Bobcats are a very driven bunch right now and it’s very hard to talk myself into them losing a winnable game at this point.
  • Prediction: Bobcats 100-90.