Queen City Hoops

Game #58: Bobcats @ Spurs — Convo w/ 48 MOH + 1-on-3

Who: San Antonio Spurs vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Spurs Home Game

When: 8:30 PM ET

Where: Live at AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
San Antonio 41-16 107.3 (6) 100.7 (5) 96.7 (14)
Charlotte 27-30 99.3 (25) 100.8 (6) 95.3 (21)

Injuries:

San Antonio: Tony Parker (OUT)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Spurs Bobcats
PG Cory Joshep Kemba Walker
SG Danny Green Gerald Henderson
SF Kawhi Leonard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Tiago Splitter Josh McRoberts
C Tim Duncan Al Jefferson
6th Man Manu Ginobili Gary Neal

3-on-3 TrueHoop NetworkToday’s preview is going to be a treat for everyone. Andrew McNeill, from 48MinutesOfHell.com and myself had an awesome conversation earlier on about tonight’s matchup and everything that’s been going on with the Bobcats and Spurs. This is some good stuff and I hope everyone enjoys it.

Our trusty QCH expert Greg Pietras also answers three vital questions leading into tonight’s tough road test in San Antonio.

Andrew:  So first and foremost for Spurs fans, how’s Gary Neal doing? Seems like he’s, at the very least, in a better situation than he was in Milwaukee.

me (Spencer):  There’s no question that he’s in a better place. He wasn’t happy in Milwaukee – not only did he make that known within the locker room there, but his play on the court made it loud-and-clear as well. Bobcats fans are very hopeful that he’ll bring an offensive boost to this roster and assist in the playoff push. Tonight will be his debut wearing a Charlotte uniform.

Andrew:  That’s good for Gary. Even though he could be considered slightly moody during his time in San Antonio, he was a well-liked person within the community. I never saw him re-signing with the team, and that’s worked out even better than I expected, but I think everyone wanted the best for him.

Now last time the Spurs and Bobcats played, Charlotte got out to a good start, forced a lot of Spurs turnovers, and San Antonio slowly chipped away and won the game. What went wrong?

 me:  Patty Mills happened. And you just don’t go over that scenario in the scouting report. I don’t anticipate that being a repeat occurrence tonight in San Antonio, but now the Spurs are on their home floor, and that obviously makes a huge difference.

Andrew:  Never underestimate Patty Mills.When I write the retrospective of this season “Patty Mills Happened” might be the subtitle.The 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs.

me:  That being said, Charlotte is on a  six-day break, so it’ll be interesting to see how that affects the team tonight. Could be a positive, could be a negative.

me: Hahaha. The guy can fill it up- there’s no question about that. There’s also that other guy named Gary Neal – he couldn’t ask for a better debut for his new team than against his former team of three years.

Andrew:  Oh, absolutely. Neal’s departure from San Antonio is one of the major reasons Mills is having the season he is. I don’t want to downplay the work Patty did in the offseason, including shedding a lot of excess weight, but the Spurs’ second unit needs a guy who can get off a shot, no questions asked. For a few years that was Gary, now that he’s gone Patrick Thrills has filled that void.

Let’s talk Kemba Walker. He’s on my fantasy team, but admittedly that means I probably still don’t keep up with him. How is his season going? How close is he to making “the leap,” and is that even possible?

me:  Look, Australia’s finest. Period. I’m admittedly a closet Patty Mills fan.

me:  Kemba has been fantastic this season. Having Al Jefferson around has really helped, taken scoring pressure off of him and significantly opened up the floor. On post-entries, the two have become very fun to watch with the combo of Kemba’s speed on cuts and Jefferson’s overall basketball IQ. Overall, Kemba has begun to come into his own for the past two seasons, but he’s proved this season just how efficient he can be with another big time piece next to him — he’s sporting a 17.50 PER this season.

me:  Andrew, have the Spurs been able to stay healthy this season? Update Charlotte on what the team looks like from an injury standpoint currently?

Andrew:  HAHAHAHA. Although, this is about the healthiest the Spurs have been in 2014.

Kawhi Leonard returned on Wednesday against the Pistons and looked good. Manu Ginobili hasn’t re-injured himself in anyway, although he did put a spectacular hurting on his shoe against Detroit.

me:  What’s the story with Tony Parker?

Andrew:  Tony Parker is close to returning to the lineup, but I doubt he’ll be available against the Bobcats. Basically, Parker hasn’t stopped playing basketball since the summer of 2012. He played all last season as the Spurs made a Finals run into late June. Then he went and led France to the Eurobasket title, got a couple of weeks off and then training camp started for this season’s Spurs.

He’s now squarely on the wrong side of 30, which is now making me fear my mortality, and injuries are going to happen for him. He needed a few days/weeks to get some rest, heal some bumps and bruises and refresh mentally.

Otherwise, it’s as healthy as San Antonio has been since New Year’s.

me:  Good stuff. I’d argue with anyone that Tony Parker is the smartest basketball player that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching at the age of 26.

me:  Andrew, do you think that the Spurs have the best depth of any roster in the NBA? It’s so tough to play against a team that has 4-5 guys that can all come off the bench and get 15+ points on any given night – you guys have that.

Andrew:  I think it’s reasonable to say that the Spurs are the deepest team in the league. Although, sometimes I wonder whether San Antonio is really that deep of a team, or if the system is so strong and dialed in that Gregg Popovich can throw in anybody for a night and still be competitive. It’s a chicken or the egg thing. But, that being said, it’s hard to question the results. The Spurs win a lot of games that they shouldn’t because they can play anybody 1-15 for solid minutes at any given moment.

Here’s something I’ve been wondering. The Bobcats have Al Jefferson, right? He plays 34 minutes a night, correct? How in the hell is Charlotte the sixth best defense in the league?

me:  I could not agree more about the system and what Coach Pop breeds with any given body in San Antonio. He’s got the formula – there’s no negating that.

Yes and yes Andrew. Two words – Steve Clifford.

me:  He’s a Thibs disciple and has had the Bobcats playing as connected as any team in the NBA, defensively, all season long. Charlotte plays defense in a stance, on their toes and are always in the perfect athletic position to close out on shooters. I coach basketball, so that’s my coaching way to tell you that this is a team of mediocre defenders who have bought into a system – see, defense is an effort thing, for the most part.

It doesn’t hurt when you add a lockdown wing defender like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to the mix.

Andrew:  Right. And it’s the same personnel, for the most part, as it’s been in the last couple of years, right?

me:  And to really answer your question, Clifford hides Jefferson on pick-and-roll situations mainly – he sags low on most of PnR’s and Charlotte will help from the wings by being extra wary of gap defense.

Yes, that’s correct. Goes to show you how much coaching philosophy really matters.

Andrew: I need one random prediction from you for tonight’s game. Something that has nothing to do with the final score.

me:  Kemba goes for 30+. Typically, he’s good on extra rest and this is a statement game for a Charlotte team that’s currently on a four-game winning streak + grinding through a tough stretch of the schedule.
And yourself, Andrew?

Andrew:  Ah, the tables have turned.

Andrew:  My random prediction is that Tim Duncan and Al Jefferson will combine for at least 25 rebounds, but the cumulative height that they jump during the game is less than five feet.

1- Three weeks ago the Patty Mills show eventually put away the Bobcats in Charlotte, but it’s safe to say that San Antonio won’t have that to lean on again tonight. Charlotte’s 6th ranked defense will need a stingy performance tonight against the Spurs 6th ranked offense. How can the Bobcats limit San Antonio offensively tonight?

Greg: The Spurs thrive close to the basket, shooting 64.3 percent within five feet, good for third in the NBA. They still lean on the corner three as well, though the league has mostly caught up to them on that one. That mostly plays to the Bobcats’ strengths, as they’ve been good in both areas. While opponents hit a healthy 39.9 percent from the corners against Charlotte, they’ve done well at limiting those attempts. If they can lock down one area and force more mid-range jumpers and low-efficiency shots, they’ll be competitive in this one.

2- Gary Neal will make his Bobcats debut tonight against his former team that he played three seasons + in an NBA Finals with. I’d say you can’t ask for much better of a debut than that. Being said, what can we expect from Neal tonight?

Greg: I’m not expecting a ton right off the bat — maybe 15-20 minutes and 10 or so points. The starters have been the real strength of the team, and Clifford could use them a little more heavily tonight to get this road trip started off well. As this brutal stretch four-game stretch goes on, though, I’d expect Neal to earn solid minutes both as bench relief and as one more shooting option next to the starters. While I don’t think Neal himself is going to have a huge individual impact, the lineup flexibility he’ll bring could improve the team as a whole. Just having a reliable bench scorer and spacer would help, too.

3- PICK IT. Charlotte begins a brutal four-game stretch tonight. Do they get off on the right foot?

Greg: I think they have a better shot of winning tonight than they do against OKC, Miami or Indiana. Their extended rest should have given them time to incorporate the new pieces into the offense, and prep a few new wrinkles for San Antonio to worry about. I still think the Spurs win, but I think it’ll be another competitive game.

There’s a half-empty/half-full way to look at the upcoming stretch: On the one hand, they’re 0-7 against those four teams this year. But aside from two ugly, early-season losses to Miami and Indiana, they’ve been very competitive. Since Dec. 1, they have a four-point loss to the Spurs, a four-point loss against the Thunder, a five-point defeat from Indiana, and dropped a one-point squeaker and an overtime game to the Heat. That’s an average margin of defeat of 4.4 points, which is relatively encouraging considering those are the league’s top teams.

Maybe it’s setting the bar low, but even competing against the NBA’s cream is a big step up for this team. If they can go 1-3 over the next few games, it’ll be a big victory.

Game #57: Bobcats vs. Grizzlies Preview

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Memphis Grizzlies

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Charlotte 25-30 99.4 (25) 101.1 (7) 95.3 (21)
Memphis 30-23 105.1 (18) 104.7 (10) 89.5 (30)

Previous Meetings:

None

Injuries:
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Memphis: Quincy Pondexter (OUT)

 

Bobcats Grizzlies
PG Kemba Walker Mike Conley
SG Gerald Henderson Courtney Lee
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Tayshaun Prince
PF Josh McRoberts Zach Randolph
C Al Jefferson Marc Gasol
6th Man Luke Ridnour? James Johnson
  • While Ridnour and Neal were in Charlotte during last night’s game against New Orleans, they were unable to play due to Sessions and Adrien not taking their physicals for Milwaukee. During his post-game press conference, Clifford denied Ridnour and Neal’s involvement in the game against Memphis. Even though Clifford might be hesitant against using the new duo, it might be necessary if they want an opportunity to go into their tough road stretch with a victory.
  • Entering the game against Memphis, Jefferson has been on one of his best stretches in his NBA career. Since the start of the month, Jefferson has averaged 24 points and 9 boards on 52% shooting. However, his skills will be put to the test as he faces one of the best defensive bigs in the NBA,  Marc Gasol, in Saturday’s matchup.
  • It should be interesting to see how Charlotte tries to contain Zach Randolph. While McRoberts is an above-average defender, he’s never really faced an opponent with the brute strength of Randolph.  With that said, McRoberts’ perimeter skills may be the mismatch that could turn this game into Charlotte’s favor.
  • While Memphis is one of the better teams in the Western Conference, Charlotte almost needs this victory to secure their 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. With an upcoming road-trip against a trifecta of championship contenders (Indiana, San Antonio and Miami), the Bobcats may need to find some magic to avoid a potential slide down the Eastern Conference playoff hierarchy.

 

Depleted Bobcats Defeat the Pelicans Behind Huge Performance From Big Al

New Orleans Pelicans 87 Final

Recap | Box Score

90 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -7In a game that was completely dominated by his frontcourt partner, Al Jefferson, Josh McRoberts definitely slide under the radar. With his perimeter jumper out-of-order, McRoberts remained ineffective on offense. On the other end, McRoberts was pretty solid as he stayed close and was an overall nuisance on Anthony Davis.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 31 MIN | 1-3 FG | 5-8 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -9While MKG remained an aggressive offensive option, his current lack of a mid-range or perimeter jumper is preventing him from being a completely effective player. Despite the team’s victory, the defensive stopper wasn’t the top-notch defender that many of us have gotten used to.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 34 MIN | 14-30 FG | 5-6 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 33 PTS | -5While it may be cliche to say that a certain player controlled a team’s fate, the Bobcats wouldn’t have been able to take this victory if it wasn’t for Al Jefferson. Working against former Bobcats great, Alexis Ajinca, Jefferson was an unstoppable offensive force throughout the opening quarter of the game. While Anthony Davis was able to make him a little less effective, Jefferson was still able to control the offensive glass and put in some key shots that lead Charlotte to victory.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 36 MIN | 3-11 FG | 7-10 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +10A large part of Jefferson’s offensive dominance can pointed to Kemba Walker’s solid playmaking abilities. While Walker wasn’t an effective scorer, he was able to control the pace of tonight’s game and lead the Bobcats offense. With that in mind, journeyman PG Brian Roberts was able to move past Walker multiple times in pick and rolls which lead to a solid 20 point outing.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -6As Charlotte continues their ride to a hopeful playoff berth, they’re going to need a solid third scoring option behind Walker and Jefferson. Henderson probably won’t be that option by the way he’s playing.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 17 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +12Whenever Tolliver and Jefferson are on the court together, perimeter magic usually happens. While Jefferson didn’t directly contribute to his perimeter excellence, Tolliver is probably thanking Big Al for giving him open jumpers

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 16 MIN | 3-7 FG | 7-8 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +10My main criticism for Zeller during his rookie season has been his apparent timidness. During tonight’s game against New Orleans, that criticism quickly died off as Zeller was extremely aggressive in pursuit of the rim and getting to the free throw line.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 14 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +8Biyombo was a force on the offensive glass and on defense. Is that really different than any other game? Nah.

Jannero Pargo, PG Shot Chart 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -7With Luke Ridnour on the verge of making his debut with the Bobcats, Jannero Pargo will more than likely be pushed to the side.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 18 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +9Similar to Pargo and Ridnour, CDR will probably be kicked to the curb with the impeding Bobcats debut of Gary Neal.

Two Things We Saw

  1. With Ridnour and Neal sidelined as they wait for the deal to be officially finalized and Ben Gordon apparently on his way out, Charlotte’s backcourt was pretty depleted. While there wasn’t a reserve Pelican that completely dominated, they were still able to get an advantage on the Bobcats because of their limited depth.
  2. After their victory over New Orleans, Charlotte moves up to the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. While they’re within breathing room of the 5th seed, Charlotte is about to start their toughest stretch of the season. After their Saturday matchup against Memphis, Charlotte will hit the road to face San Antonio, Miami and OKC before coming back home to face Indiana and the surging Cleveland Cavaliers. Yep. We might be screwed.

QCH Bucks/Cats Trade Roundtable

After weeks of anticipation, the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline deadline went out in a small wimper for one of the teams who were expected to make a big bang. After being linked to the likes of Evan Turner, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Arron Afflalo, the Bobcats left Thursday by making a small move with an Eastern Conference cellar dweller. In a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bobcats received veteran backcourt players Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. While Adrien has been one of the golden boys of QCH, this deal is basically centered around Ridnour, Neal and Sessions.

As we’re now removed from Thursday’s deadline; Greg Pietras, Dakota Schmidt and Michael Kaskay-Blomain give their take on the four player deal with Milwaukee.

1. On a scale of 1-10, how do you see this deal in terms of helping Charlotte out for the rest of the season and/or for the future 
Dakota: 5. Similar to the majority of Thursday’s deadline, this deal with Milwaukee is just another average, boring deal. With that said, this deal could help out Charlotte for the remaining two months of the regular season because of the duos ability to score from the perimeter. For his entire career, Neal has been a solid three-point marksman (40% from beyond the arc) while Ridnour is one of the best mid-range shooters in the league.
Michael: 4.  I don’t see the deal with Milwaukee moving the needle much long-term for the Bobcats, but it could help them in their playoff push this season. Neal is a solid outside shooter, which Charlotte needed to add, and will help to balance out the offense. Luke Ridnour is a solid shooter as well, as he will serve as a solid back-up point for the time being, but I don’t view either as long-term solutions for Charlotte.
Gregory: 4-ish? The Bobcats will miss Sessions, particularly on the second unit, but the trade gives them more depth in the right places and some versatility. Charlotte was frequently forced to play Sessions next to Kemba, and now they have to personnel to play more traditional lineups. That may not be a good thing: Kemba and Sessions actually formed the team’s best two-man combination that played at least 150 minutes together, going by +/- per game. In general, Sessions was effective, but the bench was still incredibly creaky before the trade. This gives them playable options in two positions rather than one.
2. How much of an upgrade or downgrade is Ridnour as a backup PG over Sessions? 

Dakota:  Considering the fact that the two teams basically swapped expiring backup point guards, I really like Ridnour in terms of his possible fit for Charlotte. While he’s had a below-average season with Milwaukee, I still think that he could be a solid 10-15 minute backup PG behind Kemba Walker.

Michael: You lose a little speed and slashing ability with Ridnour compared to Sessions, but in reality, it shouldn’t matter much. Ridnour is a solid shooter who can run an offense and hold down the point guard position for periods of time. It may be a slight upgrade, if anything, but again, no real long-term value.

Gregory: I think it’s a downgrade, but giving Henderson and Kemba a slight bump in minutes could help cover for that. Ridnour’s been pretty poor this year, and the combination of injuries, inconsistent minutes and a barren roster in Milwaukee didn’t help. He won’t need to be as dynamic at Sessions was, just steady enough to soak up some minutes. In any case, I don’t think it’s a significant enough drop to derail the team. And if he bounces back to his career stats, he’ll be an asset.

3. Was it really necessary for the team to pursue Neal when they have a similar player in Ben  Gordon?
Dakota: As an adamant Gary Neal basher, I never really saw Charlotte’s desire to pursue him when there were other less selfish perimeter options on the market (Troy Daniels)? While I’ve talked about his solid ability from beyond the arc, Neal is just a mediocre/below-average overall player who’s prone to take a lot of awful shots. With Ben Gordon rotting away on the Bobcats bench, I really didn’t see the need for Charlotte to get Gary Neal.

 

Michael: Pursuing Neal wasn’t necessary, but it does add to their offensive attack, and could help them with the upcoming playoff push. Neal will help to space the floor and open up the rest of the offense for Charlotte. Ben Gordon has not been able to contribute consistently, which they’re hoping Neal will be able to.

 

Gregory: Gordon and Neal have similarities, but I assume the situation with Ben is toxic enough that they’ve distanced him from the team. Charlotte now has a competent shooter at every position except center, which opens up a number of lineup possibilites. Most interesting (to me, at least), they can play Michael Kidd-Gilchrist additional minutes without sacrificing floor spacing, which should help the team’s defense on the whole.

Neal himself isn’t anything special, but this is a team that serves three-point shooters well. The combination of Al Jefferson drawing double-teams and a group of willing passers has Anthony Tolliver making a career-best 42 percent from three, and even Josh McRoberts is hitting 39.5 percent of his attempts. Neal’s a career 39 percent shooter from long range, and that threat should open up the paint for others. If they can improve the offense, even just a bit, while maintaining the defense, they should hold on to that playoff spot.

 

 

 

Game #56: Bobcats vs. Pelicans Preview

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs New Orleans Hornets

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Charlotte 25-30 99.4 (25) 101.1 (7) 95.3 (21)
New Orleans 23-30 104.7 (9) 106.1 (26) 94.4 (24)

Previous Meetings:

11/2/14 — 105-84 Pelicans

Injuries:
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
New Orleans: Jrue Holiday (OUT), Ryan Anderson (OUT), Jason Smith (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Hornets
PG Kemba Walker Brian Roberts
SG Gerald Henderson Eric Gordon
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Al-Farouq Aminu
PF Josh McRoberts Anthony Davis
C Al Jefferson Alexis Ajinca
6th Man Anthony Tolliver Tyreke Evans
  • Simply put, tonight is a must win game for Charlotte. It’s their last opponent that’s under .500 for awhile (5 games) + it’s at home. Three of the Bobcats next five games will be on the road and four of them will be against championship contending teams (@ San Antonio, @ OKC, @ Miami, vs. Indiana – YIKES).
  • It’s unknown as of right now whether or not Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour will suit up for the Bobcats tonight. I’d say they likely joined the team sometime this morning and if they go through shoot-around with the team then there’s probably a good chance they’ll be active tonight.
  • The Bobcats are hot. The Pelicans are not – New Orleans has lost three of it’s last four games and are now squarely out of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference. NOLA has been a bi-polar team all season long, but defense (or lack thereof) has led them down the wrong path. Monty Williams is a very good coach and typically a defensive stickler, but I think it’s safe to say that he hasn’t meshed well with this locker room – NOLA ranks 26th in the league in defensive efficiency and we’re seeing the effects of having a disgruntled Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, just in general, on the same roster. The lone bright spot for this team as of late is making Pierre the Pelican less terrifying.
  • It should be interesting to see how Clifford manages the minutes for this team due to the trade. Neal and Ridnour will allow the Bobcats to play small in stretches. Hendo will be able to slide to the SF position, with MKG + Tolliver being able to play more PF. Imagine this lineup – Ridnour, Kemba, Neal, MKG and Jefferson. Interesting possibility.
  • Note: DON’T MISS THE PODCATS SHOW TONIGHT AT 6:30 PM ET — we’ll be talking the trade + taking you right up to tip at 7pm.

Bobcats acquire Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour from Milwaukee

We all knew that the Charlotte front office had been burning up the phones this week to land offensive help before the trade deadline. Today, they manufactured a trade that will bring guards Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to the Bobcats in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien.

Losing Sessions to mainly bolster three-point shooting is what will be debated the most about this trade, but it ends up making sense for Charlotte due to the fact that this ends up being a 2-for-1 deal, essentially. Losing Ramon won’t make any Bobcats fan do backflips, but Charlotte will get back Luke Ridnour, who will immediately become the team’s backup point-guard + Gary Neal will now give this roster a dead-eye shooting guard who can come off the bench and score points in volume. Jeff Adrien, who I’m very sad to see go, was simply added into this trade to make the salaries balance out – in essence, defining the 2-for-1 deal for Charlotte.

Gary Neal is a 39.3% three-point shooter over his four-year NBA career. Although Neal has not been good in Milwaukee this season, he also hasn’t been happy being there and the Bucks deciding to sign him last summer simply didn’t pay off. He’s averaged 10 PPG, 1.7 APG & 1.4 RPG this season – in summary, he’s on the floor to do one thing and one thing only – score the ball. Defensively, Neal will frustrate you at times. He likes to gamble for steals and looks to leak out – this leads to the 29-year old blowing defensive assignments from time-to-time. Playing in Charlotte under Clifford will be an interesting setting for Neal, but considering the fact that he wanted out of Milwaukee and has been granted that wish, you would like to think the effort will be there. Neal will have one more year left on his contract after this one worth $3.2 million.

Luke Ridnour shouldn’t be asked to do a ton for the Bobcats. If Kemba is healthy for the remainder of the year, he’s going to log anywhere from 33-40 minutes on a nightly basis, so Ridnour will simply have to come in to be a ‘game manager’. What Ridnour doesn’t bring to the table that Sessions did is the ability to get to the free-throw line at a very high rate. What he does bring to the table, opposed to Sessions, is the ability to space the floor and knock down three’s. Ridnour is a 35.1% shooter from behind-the-arc for his career. Ridnour also has a 4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio for his career in the league, and again, he’s basically going to be asked to come in and manage games while Kemba rests. Ridnour has an expiring contract, so he’s likely only a half season rental for Charlotte in their playoff push.

This trade will have it’s critics, but at the core of the deal is the idea that the Bobcats gain three-point shooting + floor spacing, while sacrificing free-throw shooting and a guy that attacks the rim as hard as any point-guard in this league (Sessions).

Personally, I’m not sure how much this trade really moves the needle. It all rests in the hands of just how productive Gary Neal can be for this team since Charlotte is now committed to his $3.2 million next season, while Sessions was expiring and would have been coming off the books. Is it a good trade for the Bobcats? Meh, maybe. Is it a bad trade for them? No, not necessarily. Here’s hoping that Neal can rediscover the three-point shooting touch (42%) that he had in San Antonio his first two seasons (’10-’12) in the NBA.

QCH Trade Deadline Roundtable + PodCats Show discussing deadline

For the most part, I believe most will be quiet as the trade deadline looms just a little more than 24 hours away – Charlotte isn’t one of the many teams that most expect to stay quiet. Only time will tell, but one thing is certain – the front office is burning up the phones to find a trade partner that will help bolster the offensive depth on this roster.

We’ve heard the names Pau Gasol, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Taj Gibson, Aaron Afflalo, Gary Neal and Caron Butler all mentioned alongside the Bobcats name in rumors, so it’s clear the team is active – whether a deal is agreed upon or not is predicated on the price tag of the player(s) and Charlotte certainly has some flexibility in that sense with at least two projected first round draft picks, their own second round pick + the Ben Gordon expiring contract.

Spencer Percy, Greg Pietras and Dakota Schmidt all give their two-cents on what to expect before the buzzer sounds on the deadline Thursday.

On a 1-10 scale, how likely is it that Charlotte makes a trade before the Thursday deadline? What improvement is most needed on this roster currently and give us a player that would be an ideal fix to you?

Spencer: 5 – I don’t think there’s any question that the front office wants to add a shooter to the roster for floor spacing around Al Jefferson, or a 6th man type of player who can come off the bench and be a ‘shot in the arm’ offensively.

Right now, all the asking prices are simply too high for Charlotte. Part of that is the Bobcats being patient and letting the market depict the value of certain players as the deadline approaches, but the other part is based around the fact that Charlotte will likely own Detroit’s 1st round pick (projected #10 currently) and teams are trying to figure out a way to fish that out of Jordan & Cho in return. I think it’s rather clear that the front office is desperate to improve offensively, but it’s also becoming increasingly transparent that they may not be willing to part ways with a 1st round pick – this is why I only have the likelihood of a trade at 50%. Not so sure that when this deadline is all said-and-done that most teams (even ones expected to make moves) end up standing pat due to this summers draft and the anxiety involved with potentially blowing the chance to land a great young player.

There are a few players that I really like as a fit for the Bobcats: Aaron Afflalo is the first – he’s averaging 19.4 PPG this season and shooting 42.7% from behind-the-arc. Really is the ideal fit for Charlotte when you consider what the team needs in terms of an offensive boost. Afflalo is also a very capable defender, so could presumably mesh well with Clifford. What it would take to land Afflalo is where the deal becomes more interesting. In order to get this deal done it would have to look something like this – ADD the DET or POR 1st round pick going to ORL as well. Charlotte would likely waive Price right away.

The other wild-card name that I would keep an eye on is Harrison Barnes – there are some reports out there that many teams have contacted Golden State about the SF and you better believe Charlotte has been one. Barnes is unhappy with his role with the Warriors and he doesn’t really appear to be an integral part of their immediate future – a MKG – Barnes swap is something I believe both parties would be willing to at least discuss.

Greg: I’d say 9. They have too many loose assets not to spend a bit, with that Portland pick in particular seemingly earmarked for a deal. I doubt it’ll be anything huge, though; I’m expecting something along the lines of the now-defunct trade with the Bucks that would have returned Gary Neal and Caron Butler. Adding a little depth and shooting would be great.

It seems unlikely, but I don’t think standing pat would hurt. Even with reinforcements, it’d be a stretch for this team to move into the fifth or sixth seed, which likely means annihilation at the hands of the Heat or Pacers. These Bobcats are good enough for right now, and it’d even be fine (if disappointing) if they dropped out of the playoffs: A three-percent chance at a top-three pick is probably better in the long run than a three-percent chance at beating LeBron. They have a fun, young, semi-competitive team, and I’m dreading the sort of short-sighted, cash-in trade the team has made in the past. Which, uh:

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I’m not opposed to dealing young players (everyone on the roster should be available), but overpaying for marginal gains is why the team is where it is now. They’ve had a better track record on trades in recent years, so hopefully level heads prevail.

As far as the most-needed improvement: Shooting, shooting, shooting, particularly on the wing. I particularly liked this hypothetical from Rob Mahoney at Sports Illustrated, who suggested swapping Gerald Henderson with the Hawks’ Kyle Korver. Though he isn’t a very good individual defender, Korver has started for elite defenses before and does a good job of playing to his limitations there. Meanwhile, his elite three-point shooting could unlock an offense that’s struggled all year. Charlotte would be able to really punish defenses double-teaming Al Jefferson, just by adding Korver to the corner.

Though I like them both individually, the pairing of Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has offensive limitations. It’s unlikely that Hendo will ever be a reliable three-point shooter, and Kidd-Gilchrist’s issues are pretty obvious. But between the two of them, I’d still hang on to MKG. He’s a very good, borderline elite defender, and at 20 still has room to grow a functioning offensive game. Henderson’s average across the board, which obviously has value in itself, but I’d rather have a specialist than a jack of all trades.

Either way, addressing that gap is probably the team’s biggest priority moving forward, whether they take care of it now or in the offseason.

Dakota: 9. While about 85% of the rumors tend to be false (being a little generous), Charlotte’s at the point where they’re going for one of the lower spots in the playoffs. As they currently stand, Charlotte is still a solid defensive team but are definitely in need of a solid offensive weapon after Jefferson or Walker. While a deal for a player at the level of Pau Gasol might be out of the question, I’d be interested to see them pursue a perimeter sharp-shooter or a solid defensive front-court option that you can put next to Jefferson, In terms of the front-court option, I really love the rumors surrounding Taj Gibson even though his price might be a little hefty. For perimeter options, I would like to see Anthony Morrow or Kyle Korver be considered as potential trade pieces.

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- Doug Branson and Spencer Percy discussed everything trade deadline on last night’s PodCats Show, so if you’re more of a listener and less of a reader — HERE YOU ARE.

Charlotte Bobcats 108, Detroit Pistons 96: Bobcats clinch season series against Detroit

Charlotte Bobcats 108 FinalRecap | Box Score 96 Detroit Pistons
Josh McRoberts, PF 33 MIN | 3-5 FG | 5-7 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +18

Very good game from McRoberts, as he spent the night sniping from distance and grabbing more than his share of rebounds. The McDouble Double has been pretty rare: While he’s grabbed 10+ boards three other times this year, he only scored in double digits in one of those games.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 20 MIN | 2-3 FG | 3-8 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +8

Good game from MKG, too. (This will be a trend.) The only thing really holding him back was foul trouble; beyond that, he played good defense, rebounded well and scored aggressively and efficiently. He gets dinged a bit for missing his free throws, which has been a consistent issue. Those five misses dropped him below 60 percent on the season.

Al Jefferson, C 38 MIN | 15-28 FG | 2-3 FT | 12 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 32 PTS | +9

Ho hum. Another terrific game from Jefferson. Al faced the double team all night, and did a great job of passing to the open man when he wasn’t just scoring anyway.

Kemba Walker, PG 43 MIN | 8-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +10

Kemba seems to have fully recovered from his injury, as he was back to his Iron Man workload with a team-high 43 minutes. He got a little trigger-happy from long range after finding early success there, but  mixed things up enough to finish with an efficient 22 points. Even on nights when his assist total is just average, Kemba keeps the ball churning: According to NBA.com, he leads the league in passes per game by a fair margin.

Gerald Henderson, SG 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +14

Henderson had a below-average scoring night, but that was buoyed by his seven assists. The team’s ball movement has been terrific lately, and that’s part of a general trend. Charlotte’s assists per game have been steadily increasing every month this season.

Anthony Tolliver, PF 28 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +4

A vanilla night from Tolliver, but he didn’t have much to do on a night when Jefferson and Kemba were (justifiably) dominating the ball.

Cody Zeller, C 15 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -6

The rebounds were nice? Zeller had a shaky night, getting viciously stuffed at the rim and playing inconsistent defense that helped Detroit claw their way back into the game. He also committed one of the more bizarre turnovers you’ll see: After grabbing a tough offensive rebound, Zeller collected himself, paused a second, then threw a hard bounce pass to no one that the Pistons turned into an easy two points.

Bismack Biyombo, C 10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +3

Biz had a decent Biz game, but he didn’t help himself by missing those free throws.

Ramon Sessions, PG 21 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | 0

Sessions didn’t have much of an issue getting to the basket tonight, and Detroit didn’t seem too eager to contest. It was the rare game when Sessions didn’t make a single free throw.

One Thing We Saw

  1. This was a big win for the Bobcats, as it clinched the season series with the Pistons and put them another game ahead in the battle for the eighth seed. If Charlotte can beat Detroit again tomorrow night, it’ll be interesting to see how the Pistons handle Thursday’s trade deadline.

Game #54 + 55: Bobcats-Pistons back-to-back 3-on-3 preview

Who: Detroit Pistons vs. Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Pistons Home Game

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where: Live at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Efficiency
Defensive
Efficiency
Pace
Detroit 22-30 102.4 (18) 104.7 (19) 97.6 (10)
Charlotte 23-30 98.8 (25) 101.2 (7) 95.1 (21)

Previous Meetings:

12/20/13 — 116-106 Bobcats

Injuries:
Detroit: Chauncey Billups (DTD)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Pistons Bobcats
PG Brandon Jennings Kemba Walker
SG Kyle Singler Gerald Henderson
SF Josh Smith Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Greg Monroe Josh McRoberts
C Andre Drummond Al Jefferson
6th Man Rodney Stuckey Ramon Sessions

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network Charlotte and Detroit will get together for the next two nights in a home-and-home swing. The Pistons stand just a half-game back of Charlotte in the east for the 8th spot and the season series between the two is only 3 games (Bobcats won game 1), so these next two nights are vital for both teams playoff hopes. Percy, Pietras and Kaskey-Blomain go in on Bobcats-Pistons, getting you ready for the next two nights.

1- Detroit is the worst 3-point shooting team in the league at 30.9%. This would be the type of offensive team that Charlotte could presumably feast on defensively by packing it in, but what Piston(s) pose the most dangerous threat in these next two games?

Spencer: With Detroit, the second chances are what horrifies me. The Pistons are the best offensive rebounding team in the league, yanking down 31.8% of their opportunities on that end. To that note, Charlotte is 2nd in the league in defensive rebounding (77.1%). Something has to give here and this will be a huge factor on which team gets a positive result in the next two nights.

Greg:  Even though he’s somewhat limited offensively, Andre Drummond still has the potential to wreck things for the Bobcats. He’s an excellent shotblocker, and Charlotte’s post play generates most of their points. Drummond’s rebounding will cause issues, as well. The Bobcats rely heavily on defensive boards, ranking second in the NBA in DRB%, but Andre is the league’s best offensive rebounder (by far): greg preview

Michael: It is a good thing for Charlotte’s sake that Detroit struggles from deep, because you really need to pack it into the paint against an interior as strong as Detroit’s. Between Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, big Al Jefferson and the rest of the ‘Cats’ frontcourt will have their hands full. While Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith always serve as scoring threats, for the Bobcats to be successful in this series against Detroit, they really need to limit Drummond’s production. Drummond’s ability to hit the glass and secure second chance opportunities for the Pistons is big, and if he is able to get Jefferson into foul trouble, then Charlotte may be in trouble. They need to keep Drummond off of the offensive glass, and limit the amount of damage he does in the paint. If they are able to do that, the Bobcats should be in position to win both battles.

2- Charlotte will get the Pistons first round pick this summer if Detroit finishes outside of the top-8. Currently, the Pistons are 2 games ahead of being top-8. Would the Bobcats sweeping them in this quick back-to-back set vault Detroit into the cellar and prevent Charlotte from garnering that pick?

Spencer: With the recent firing of Mo Cheeks just before the all-star break, it does make me scratch my head about where this Pistons locker room is. If they drop two straight to Charlotte and fall 2+ games out of the playoff race then the Pistons could quickly turn into seller’s leading up to the trade deadline on Thursday.

Greg: It’ll be interesting to see what the Pistons do at the trade deadline. It’s rumored they’re looking to deal Greg Monroe, and that might by addition by subtraction if they can get pieces that fit together a little better. I think they’re still capable of making a run and winning a few games. But if it comes down to the last few weeks and they’re still on the bubble, I think we’ll probably see some phantom injuries crop up. A good pick in this draft is just too valuable.

Michael: There is still a decent amount of season left, so I don’t think losing this back-to-back would necessarily doom Detroit to falling into the top 8. Winning both games however, would help the Bobcats in the playoff push, so it could certainly have an impact either way. Getting the Pistons pick would be nice, but so would a playoff appearance.

3- We’ll start in Detroit tonight, before the showdown in the Queen City Wednesday night. You got a split, Charlotte sweep or Detroit sweep?

Spencer: Again, I’m not sure what to think about Detroit right now. They just fired their coach and have a locker room full of egotistical individuals. In other words, I simply trust the Bobcats more right now, so I’m going with Charlotte tonight + tomorrow night. This is seemingly the Bobcats chance to set the tone for what speed they’ll be traveling as they approach the finish line – what better opportunity than a back-to-back scenario against a very beatable opponent?

Greg: I think a split is most likely. Charlotte’s had some very encouraging wins, and have generally looked strong with a healthy starting lineup, but they’re still seven games under .500. They just don’t have much consistency yet, and Detroit is talented enough to take advantage of that.

Michael: I see a home-and-home split. Both teams should be well rested coming out of the all-star break, especially since neither team was featured prominently. At this point, both teams are still fighting for the playoffs, so the effort and enthusiasm will be there. It is a tall order to contain Drummond and Monroe in back-to-back games, so while Charlotte currently has the edge in playoff positioning, I expect to see the games split between the two teams.

Bobcats rolled in Brooklyn

Charlotte Bobcats 89 Final
Recap | Box Score
105 Brooklyn Nets
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 27 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -21

Although McBob has been shooting the ball well lately, it probably means that Brooklyn did a nice job defensively if he took 7 shots from deep.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -17

I have no complaints here. We’re all just going to wait patiently for you to learn how to get to the foul line.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 28 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -21

Jefferson had 11 points at the end of the 1st quarter and then Brooklyn pretty much said enough is enough. Double teams came in the blink-of-an-eye in the 2nd quarter and the Big Al train slowed down tonight.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 6-17 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -24

Much more active offensively tonight and is looking 100% healthy to me. Kemba was forced into many shots during 3rd quarter due to how well Brooklyn was defending Jefferson.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -24

BOO! Don’t go back there Hendo. Don’t you do it!

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +7

He’s human again. Tolliver has been unconscious from behind-the-arc recently, but woke up tonight. Elevated minutes due to Charlotte trying to figure out a way to get back in the game for most of the night.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 19 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +3

Basically taking the form of what a true backup center should be asked to do in this league.

Ramon Sessions, PG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -4

Couldn’t get to the FT line tonight and neither could the Bobcats.

Four Things We Saw

  1. After a very impressive win and offensive outburst against Dallas last night, the Bobcats came crashing back down to earth tonight. Charlotte shot just 41.4% from the floor and only got to the foul line 15 times – going 7-15 (46.7%) for freebies.
  2. Only turning the ball over 10 times is nice. Only forcing 9 turnovers isn’t so nice. Giving away 18 points off of your 10 turnovers – not so nice either.
  3. Paul Pierce. Or the ghost of him. 9-11 from the floor tonight for 25 points.
  4. It’s all-star break everyone. Enjoy the show this weekend and elevated trade rumors involving the Bobcats.