Two tired teams will duke it out at Time Warner Cable Arena tonight when the Orlando Magic visit the Charlotte Bobcats. Both clubs played last night, with Orlando securing its second consecutive win and Charlotte dropping a game in Detroit, giving the Pistons their first victory of the season. The Magic swept the Bobcats out of their first playoff appearance in franchise history last spring, with Jameer Nelson leading the way. But Nelson is out tonight due to a sprained left ankle sustained in last night's win, leaving Chris Duhon to start against D.J. Augustin at the point; Felton signed with the New York Knicks this summer.
Charlotte's offense is as bad as ever, but the reason for their slow start is their poor defense. The Bobcats, by any measure, ranked near the top of the league in defense last season. This year, their weaknesses have become more pronounced. Though Nazr Mohammed has historically played Dwight Howard pretty well, he's not defending the post the way his team needs to. Due to the trade of Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks, DeSagana Diop remains Charlotte's only adequate low-post defender. The problem for coach Larry Brown is the fact that Diop's such an offensive non-entity that he can't afford to give him extended playing time; Diop's playing just 9.6 minutes per game this season.
But a bigger problem as it pertains to the Bobcats' D against the Magic, comes in the pick-and-roll, almost entirely due to Stephen Jackson. The veteran swingman has defended 6 of those plays this season, yielding 11 points. Expect the Magic to attack Jackson in these sets, with Vince Carter as the intitiator.
Another weakness the Magic can exploit? Three-point shooting. Bobcats opponents have drained 40.6 percent of their longballs so far this year. Charlotte defended the arc well last season and dared its opponents to take a ton of threes. This season? Well, the second half of that statement has held up, with Charlotte's five opponents averaging 19.2 attempts from three-point range.
Note that I've listed Quentin Richardson as tonight's small forward, but it's only a guess; as Brian Schmitz wrote last night, the fifth starter for Orlando will be "a crapshoot" every night. My feeling is coach Stan Van Gundy will want Richardson on the All-Star Gerald Wallace to start the game. I also believe he'll want Brandon Bass to match up with energy forward Tyrus Thomas off Charlotte's bench, which could leave Ryan Anderson out of the rotation. Again, these are only guesses.
|2010/2011 NBA Season
|3-1 (0-1 road)
|1-4 (0-1 home)
|November 6th, 2010
|Time Warner Cable Arena
|2010/11 Advanced Stats