Charlotte Bobcats Preview: Keys to Beating Grizzlies, Bucks
By Matt Rochinski
November 16, 2012
KEY MATCHUP vs GRIZZLIES
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Rudy Gay
Heading into Wednesday’s game in Minnesota, you’d have been hard-pressed to find any rookie who was as hot as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In the two games heading into Wednesday’s game, MKG was averaging 20.0 points on 60.9 percent (14-for-23) from the field and 92.3 percent (12-for-13) from the charity stripe. He was also bringing down 10.0 rebounds and blocking 1.50 shots in those two contests. Like the rest of the Cats, Kidd-Gilchrist is protecting the ball extremely well right now with only two turnovers on Charlotte’s two-game winning streak. Did we mention he became the second-youngest player in NBA history to record a 25+ point, 12+ rebound night with 25 and 12 in the Bobcats OT win over the Mavs on November 10? The youngest ever – LeBron James, but that’s pretty good company. MKG came back down to earth a bit against the Timberwolves, finishing with just two points, two assists and two rebounds in 17 minutes. He was in foul trouble early in the game, limiting his minutes … Rudy Gay is capable of playing at an all-star level for the Grizzlies when he’s healthy and is showing that now. He’s posting a team-best 19.5 points in six games to go with 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 block. The only thing he appears to be struggling with is his shooting percentages – 39.3 percent from the field, 23.5 percent from 3-point range and 75.8 percent from the charity stripe. These are all below Gay’s career averages, so if MKG can frustrate him on the defensive end, it could be key for the Cats.
KEY MATCHUP vs. BUCKS
Kemba Walker vs. Brandon Jennings
Kemba Walker has put the team on his shoulders this season and has helped carry the load to three straight wins and a 4-3 record heading into Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies. Walker showed again on November 14 in Minneapolis why he wants the ball in his hands with time running down. Walker called off a screen in the waning moments, crossed over Alexey Shved and stepped up and hit a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left to give Charlotte the 89-87 win on Saturday. Walker finished with a team-high 22 points, dished out five assists, grabbed four rebounds, swiped four steals and even blocked a shot against the Timberwolves. He’s leading the Cats with 19.0 points and 5.1 assists to go with his 3.7 rebounds and 2.86 steals… Brandon Jennings appears to be loving playing with new backcourt mate Monta Ellis, as he is freeing things up for Jennings to operate or sit outside the arc to hit the open three. Jennings is second on the team with an average of 16.9 points and is adding 7.9 assists, 3.14 steals and 3.1 rebounds. He’s attempted a team-high 34 treys this season, but is connecting on just 32.4 percent (11-for-34) of his attempts from long range.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (4-3)
The Bobcats are riding a three game winning streak and are above .500 for the second time this season… A big reason for the Bobcats latest success has been great play off the bench. With Jeff Taylor in the starting lineup for the injured Gerald Henderson, the Cats starters are outscoring their reserves, 61.7 points to 53.9 points per game. Ramon Sessions leads the way for Charlotte off the bench with 16.3 points, 4.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 27.4 minutes… Head Coach Mike Dunlap preaches defense at the rim, and that much is evident in the Cats stats so far. Charlotte leads the league with 8.14 blocks, led by rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (1.70). But MKG isn’t the only one turning shots away. Six different Bobcats are averaging at least 1.00 block… The Cats also rank seventh in the NBA with 9.29 steals and are second in steals differential, turning it over themselves just 6.43 times per contest. Kemba Walker is second in the league with 2.86 steals per game.
SCOUTING THE GRIZZLIES (6-1 as of 11/16)
Since losing their season opener 101-92 to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Halloween night, the Grizzlies are undefeated in November. They’ve rattled off six straight wins by an average margin of victory of 12.2 points and rank fifth in the NBA with 101.6 points each contest… Memphis also ranks fifth in 3-point percentage (0.393) but isn’t sparked by any one outside shooter. Three lesser know Grizzlies – Wayne Ellington (11), Jerryd Bayless (10) and Quincy Pondexter (10) – have hit double-digit treys, while Mike Conley has added nine… Much of Memphis’ success comes inside, where Zach Randolph (16.7 points, 14.0 rebounds) and Marc Gasol (14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds) combine for 30.8 points and 21.1 rebounds.
SCOUTING THE BUCKS (5-2 as of 11/16)
Milwaukee is off to solid start with five wins in its first seven games. The Bucks enter their home contest against New Orleans on a two-game winning streak… The backcourt carries the day for Milwaukee behind Monta Ellis (20.0 points, 5.4 assists, 1.57 steals) and Brandon Jennings (16.9 points, 7.9 assists, 3.14 steals). If the Bobcats can keep the Bucks backcourt in check, they’ll have a good shot in this one. Only one other Milwaukee starter – Larry Sanders (10.1 points) averages double digits… Power forward Ersan Ilyasova has yet to reach the level he was playing at in 2011-12. He averaged a career-best 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds last season but is only putting up 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds through Milwaukee’s first seven games.
Make sure you come support the Cats when they take on the Grizzlies at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and the Bucks at 7 p.m. on Monday. Both games will be at Time Warner Cable Arena®. Tickets start at 10 dollars. If you can’t make it, watch the game on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. Follow the game with live in-game chat at bobcats.com or download the app on your smartphone.