Team Records: Charlotte (3-19) at Portland (12-9)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 750 AM the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -14.5
Refs: Tom Washington, Brent Barnaky, John Goble
The Skinny: Following an aggravating loss Monday in Utah that culminated with an injury to Nicolas Batum which turned out to be not nearly as serious as first thought, Portland returns home to face the team with the worst record in the NBA. Charlotte has been simply awful this season, rarely competitive and losing 16 of their last 17 games, most by double digits.
Last Season: The two teams split the season series 1-1, with both winning on their home court. Portland has won the last three at home by an average of 19 points per game.
Projected Bobcats Lineup:
PF: Tyrus Thomas (LSU, 6th Season) – 7.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, .8 APG
SF: Boris Diaw (France, 9th Season) – 8.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.2 APG
C: Desagana Diop (Oak Hill Academy (HS), 11th Season) – 1.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, .9 APG
SG: Gerald Henderson (Duke, 3rd Season) – 15 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1 APG
PG: Kemba Walker (Connecticut, Rookie) – 11.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.2 APG
Player to Watch: Kemba Walker (pictured at right) – In the midst of an otherwise lost season for Charlotte, rookie point guard Kemba Walker is quickly showing he belongs at this level. Walker is an explosive player on offense with shoot-first tendencies. A streaky outside shooter, Walker has begun to pass the ball more and more effectively as the season wears on. He is still working on his defense, but he seems to be rapidly improving there as well. Walker has the potential to be a legitimate star in this league but at this stage, only time will tell if he can make that leap.
Did You Know?: The Bobcats are the only current NBA team to have never won a playoff game. They were swept in their only playoff appearance.
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee), SF Nicolas Batum (knee)
Charlotte: Out – SF Corey Maggette (hamstring), PG DJ Augustin (toe)
Charlotte does one thing well – block shots – ranking fifth in the NBA with 5.7 blocks per game. Pretty much everything else they do, they do poorly. They don’t play effective offense, ranking 29th in offensive efficiency, nor effective defense, ranking 28th in defensive efficiency. They are typically outmatched at virtually every position on the court and unless either Walker or Diaw have big nights, and are probably only competitive if both do. There is a reason they are dead last in the NBA in point differential – losing by an average of 12.7 points per game – and that reason is that they are simply a really bad team. They might be on the uptick in a few years as they rebuild, but for now, they are simply awful.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They knock Charlotte out early. Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” With an opponent that is used to losing, the best the Blazers can do is to make sure Charlotte knows they have no chance early and cruise to another easy home win.
Charlotte wins if: They make Portland think it’s a road game. Charlotte has virtually no chance of winning this, but any chance they do have is tied up in Portland playing like they are on the road instead of at home.