Team Records: Portland (45-24) at Charlotte (33-36)
Game Info: 4 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -1
Refs: Mike Callahan, Matt Boland, Kane Fitzgerald
The Skinny: Fresh off a fairly easy win over the Wizards, the Blazers begin their last extended road trip of the season with a game they should reasonably expect to win in Charlotte. The Bobcats have been very much up and down this year but are coming off two straight losses. Charlotte currently sits 7th in the east, which means almost certainly first round doom against the Heat or Pacers.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers throttled the Bobcats from start to finish, winning by 30 in a game that wasn’t that close. Portland hit 21 3s in the win and has won seven of the last eight overall vs. the Bobcats.
Projected Bobcats Lineup:
PF-Josh McRoberts (Duke-7th Season)- 8.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.2 APG.
SF-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky-2nd Season)-7.4 PPG, 5 RPG, .8 APG.
C-Al Jefferson (Prentiss (HS)-10th Season)-21.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.1 APG
SG-Gerald Henderson (Duke-5th Season)-14.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.6 APG.
PG-Kemba Walker (Connecticut-3rd Season)-17.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.8 APG.
Player to Watch-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (pictured at right)-Sure the Bobcats wanted his teammate Anthony Davis but MKG isn’t a bad backup plan. He has quickly established himself as a strong defensive presence with a high motor who is tough and aggressive at all times. On offense, MKG does a good job drawing fouls and scoring close to the rim, even if his outside shot needs a little work. Still, much like Charlotte as a whole, he has developed fairly quickly than would have been thought and with his physical gifts, if he is this solid now, give him a few years and he could be a solid NBA starter on a good Bobcats team.
Did You Know?: The Bobcats have 33 wins this year, they had only 28 wins in the last two seasons COMBINED.
Song of the Day: “The Anthem” by Good Charlotte. Yes, Good Charlotte is not actually from Charlotte (they’re from Maryland) but it’s a good one. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee), Doubtful-PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Back)
Charlotte: Out-C Brendan Haywood (Foot), SG Jeffery Taylor (Achilles)
Re-Evaluating Charlotte: Winning Despite Questionable Draft Picks
With the addition of Al Jefferson last summer the Bobcats were expected to at least contend for a playoff spot this season and they have. Yes they are in the eastern conference but that is still impressive for a team that was simply atrocious the last two seasons. The Bobcats are doing all this despite some draft picks that can charitably be termed questionable. Yes MKG was a good pick but beyond that Biyombo, Cody Zeller, Gerald Henderson and others have not worked out so well. While they don’t look to be among the contenders anytime soon, the Bobcats certainly look to be playoff contenders for the next few years, which is a lot better than what they had been doing.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. The Bobcats are a bad offensive team and so if Portland can top the century mark, they should win.
Charlotte wins if: They stop Portland’s three point shooting. If Charlotte wants to stay close in this one, they have to make Portland play at their pace and the first step to doing that is to not allow Portland to have one of their good nights from deep. If they can limit Portland from 3, they might have a chance at winning this one.