By Caroline Sikes
January 3, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs CAVALIERS
Kemba Walker vs. Kyrie Irving
Two of the best point guards from the 2011 NBA Draft face off when Kemba Walker takes on Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers. In his second season, Walker has emerged as a leader on the Bobcats team. He’s started all 31 games, averaging 18.1 points (ranked 21st in NBA), 6.0 assists (21st), 3.3 rebounds and 1.87 steals (seventh). Walker has been the go-to guy for the Cats, leading the team with 15.5 field goal attempts… The only player from Walker’s draft class to put up competitive numbers is Kyrie Irving. After missing 11 games due to a broken finger, Irving has also put up impressive numbers in his sophomore season. The Duke product averages 22.7 points, 5.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.33 steals. Among sophomores in the NBA, Walker and Irving rank first and second in points and assists and are second and third in steals behind Kawhi Leonard (2.13) from the Spurs… The winner of this point guard match up may be the deciding factor for which team takes the game.
KEY MATCHUP vs PISTONS
Gerald Henderson vs. Kyle Singler
Since returning to the starting line up on December 15, Gerald Henderson has been averaging 14.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.0 steal. The Cats Captain has done a good job keeping the young team composed during a rocky stretch of games and helped deliver a win against the Bulls, putting up 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a block… Henderson will have to square off against his former teammate, Kyle Singler, when the Bobcats travel to Detroit. Singler was placed in the starting lineup early in the season after Rodney Stuckey suffered from the flu. Through 34 games, Singler averages 8.6 points, 3.9 boards and 1.0 assist. The Rookie turned his temporary starting position into a consistent appearance… It will be interesting to see which former Duke star will get the best of the other after playing together for two seasons in college.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (8-23)
The Bobcats broke their 18-game losing streak against the Chicago Bulls on December 31, winning 91-81. The key to the victory was having valuable contributions from everyone… Four Bobcats scored in double figures and out of the nine players to see minutes, eight scored at least five points… Guard play has been huge for the Bobcats on the offensive end this season. The backcourt boasts the Cats four leading scorers with Kemba Walker (18.1 points), Ramon Sessions (14.3), Gerald Henderson (13.7) and Ben Gordon (12.8). The Bobcats will need this kind of distribution and consistency from everyone if they would like to extend one win into three.
SCOUTING THE CAVALIERS (7-26)
Before heading to Charlotte, the Cavaliers have dropped nine of their last 11 games, including five straight at home. The Cavs have been plagued by some injuries, including the most recent to their third-leading scorer, Anderson Varejao, who suffered a bruised right knee. Varejao has missed seven games after averaging 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds this season. He returned to practice on Monday in a limited role, but has not participated in contact drills, so his return against the Bobcats is questionable… The Cavs have struggled trying to find a rhythm on the offensive end. They shoot 41.5 percent on the season, second-to-last in the NBA, while averaging 19.3 assists, last in the league.
SCOUTING THE PISTONS (12-22 as of 1/2)
Before hosting the Bobcats, the Detroit Pistons will tip off against the Atlanta Hawks. The Pistons have been on a roll to end December and begin the New Year, winning five of their last six, including a 109-99 win over the Miami Heat. Big man Greg Monroe may be a lot for the Bobcats to handle in the paint. Monroe currently leads the Pistons in scoring with 15.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Finding a way to slow Monroe may be a key factor in deciding the outcome of the game. Second-year point guard Brandon Knight is second on the team in scoring with 14.1 points, while Tayshaun Prince puts up 12.3 points in his 11th season with the Pistons.
The Bobcats and Cavaliers tip off at 7 p.m. on January 4 in Time Warner Cable Arena®. Come support your Cats at home as they go for their second-straight win. Then follow the Bobcats when they travel to Detroit to play the Pistons at 7:30 p.m. on January 6. Catch both games on SportSouth or listen on WFNZ. As always, follow the live in-game chat by going to bobcats.com or downloading the Bobcats app on your smartphone.