By Matt Rochinski
December 20 , 2012
KEY MATCHUP vs WARRIORS
Bismack Biyombo vs. David Lee
When these two teams matched up on December 10 in Charlotte, it was the Warriors who got the better of the Cats, 104-96. Both teams had five players score in double digits, but for the Bobcats, it might be the play of Bismack Biyombo that could be key against Golden State. Biyombo finished with five points the first time out against the Warriors but was most effective in the paint where he brought down a team-high 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. Biyombo started off his second season with the Cats slow, averaging 4.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.2 minutes, including one start. He’s been in Charlotte’s starting lineup in seven of 10 games in December and bumped those averages to 5.1 points and 7.9 rebounds… Biz might have his hands full with Golden State’s David Lee. The Warriors big man had 25 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the December 10 matchup. Lee is averaging a double-double (19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds) and is second in the NBA with 16 double-doubles. Biyombo will need to keep Lee under his season averages to help give the Cats a chance.
KEY MATCHUP vs NUGGETS
Ramon Sessions vs. Ty Lawson
The Cats are hoping Ramon Sessions’ performance in Phoenix on Wednesday was the exception and not the rule. Sessions finished two points on 1-for-4 shooting, ending his streak of six-straight games in double digits off the bench. Over that stretch, Sessions was averaging 14.2 points and 4.2 assists and was often on the court late in contests with starting point guard Kemba Walker to provide difficult matchups for opposing guards…Ty Lawson broke out for the Nuggets after taking over the starting point guard role in his third season in 2011-12 and has kept getting better as the 2012-13 season moves past the midway portion of December. Lawson has become a key scoring option for the Nuggets this month, bumping his scoring average from 13.1 points in November to 16.9 in December.
KEY MATCHUP vs HEAT
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. LeBron James
Coming off a 25-point, 12-rebound performance in on Wednesday in Phoenix, it seems appropriate that the belated gift under rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s seems appropriate that the belated gift under rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s tree is a matchup with LeBron James when Charlotte returns home on December 26. With his performance against the Suns, MKG joined James as the only two players in NBA history to post 25-or-more points 12-or-more rebounds twice before their 20th birthday… Heading into the back half of the Cats four-game West Coast swing, Kidd-Gilchrist had to be hoping to use Wednesday’s game as a springboard to close out December strong. After winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors in November, MKG shook off some rookie rust with his game in Phoenix, ending a streak of three games where he did not score in double figures – his longest streak of the season… Kidd-Gilchrist has had some tough covers defensively early in his rookie season, having matchup up against the likes of the Lakers Kobe Bryant, the Hawks Josh Smith, the Clippers Blake Griffin, the Knicks Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder’s Kevin Durant. But his toughest might come with James in town. Entering Thursday’s games, James ranked fifth in the league in scoring (25.2 points), 10th in field goal percentage (.537) and assists (6.9) and 18th in rebounds (8.5). Last year’s MVP has been the key to the Heat’s 16-6 start, so if MKG can slow him down, it should give the Cats a chance at the upset.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (7-18)
The Bobcats are looking to break a 13-game slide as they continue their four-game West Coast trip… Charlotte is scoring well this season, putting up 96.4 points per game led by 18.8 points from second-year point guard Kemba Walker and 14.1 points off the bench from Ramon Sessions… While defense was a staple for the Cats at the start of the season, their recent skid has seen the Bobcats fall to last in opponents’ points allowed (104.4). Teams have found success against Charlotte from outside the arc, where they’re shooting 38.4 percent.… Gerald Henderson has been a bright spot for Charlotte since his return from injury and subsequent insertion back into the starting lineup. He’s averaged 13.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists, as well as notching a highlight reel dunk over Dwight Howard in his three starts this month.
SCOUTING THE WARRIORS (17-9)
Arguably one of the surprise teams of the year, the Warriors have won seven of their last 10 contests and post a 7-3 record on their home court. They’d be the No. 5 seed in the West if the playoffs started today and are doing it without big man Andrew Bogut… Golden State puts up 100.8 points per game – one of 10 teams in the NBA to average more than 100 points… Guard Stephen Curry (19.9 points, 6.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.58 steals) and forward David Lee (19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists) provide a nice one-two, inside-outside punch for the Warriors.
SCOUTING THE NUGGETS (14-12 as of 12/20)
The Cats close out their four-game West Coast road trip in Denver, where they’ll face one of the league’s hottest home teams. The Nuggets entered Friday with a 7-1 home record, making them one of only two teams in the NBA with just one home loss (New York is 11-1)… Denver gets it done by trying to outscore its opponents. The Nuggets rank sixth in the league in scoring (102.0 points) but are 25th in opponent’s points per game (100.8)… Danillo Gallinari leads the way for Denver with 16.1 points while adding 5.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He’s also knocked down a team-high 40 treys, with four Nuggets – Gallinari, Corey Brewer (39), Andre Iguodala (33) and Ty Lawson (25) – having hit at least 25 3-pointers.
SCOUTING THE HEAT (16-6 as of 12/20)
The Bobcats need to take advantage of how the Heat are playing away from Miami. The Heat are 4-4 on the road, while posting a 12-2 record at home… The offenses Charlotte faces in the next three games get stronger along the way, capped by a matchup against the league’s No. 4 ranked offense (103.1 points). But the Heat aren’t all about offense. They also rank No. 6 in the NBA in point differential (+5.3 points) while holding their opponents to 97.8 points… Miami’s “Big Three” lead the way with LeBron James (25.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.32 steals) putting up another MVP-caliber season. Dwyane Wade follows with 19.7 points and Chris Bosh adds 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds… The Heat have added a solid fourth scoring option in shooting guard Ray Allen. He’s averaging 11.9 points and has knocked down a team-high 40 treys already this season.
The Bobcats tip off at 10:30 p.m. on December 21 against Golden State before heading to Denver to take on the Nuggets at 9:00 p.m. on December 22. Charlotte then gets a few days off over the holiday before taking on the Heat in Wednesday Night Basketball at 7 p.m. on December 26 at Time Warner Cable Arena®. Watch the games on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. Follow the live in-game chat at bobcats.com or download the Bobcats app on your smart phone.