By Ketrell Marshall
January 10, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs RAPTORS
Kemba Walker vs. Jose Calderon
Kemba Walker has put together an excellent sophomore campaign this season. He is leading the Bobcats in minutes (35.4), points (17.8), assists (6.0) and is ranked eighth in the league in steals (1.82). In the Cats last two victories Walker has put up some impressive numbers, averaging 19 points, 6.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.5 blocks. He continues to be a leader on the offensive end as well as a strong defender for the Bobcats… Charlotte’s sophomore point guard will need to use his strong defensive awareness as he goes against the Toronto Raptor’s leading facilitator, Jose Calderon…He ranks sixth in the league in assists (7.7) and is the Raptor’s biggest threat from outside the 3-point line. He has knocked down 55 shots from the perimeter while connecting on 42 percent of his attempts… The key for the Cats might be if the quicker Walker can limit Calderon’s effectiveness as a facilitator.
KEY MATCHUP vs PACERS
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Paul George
The Bobcats No. 2 draft pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, has continued to improve in his rookie season. MKG is coming off of another productive outing against the Jazz on January 9, where he scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out four assists and contributed to the defense with two steals. Kidd-Gilchrist is second on the team in blocks (1.24) and third in total steals (27)… It will be critical for MKG to showcase his lockdown defense as he goes against Indiana’s Paul George. He leads the Pacers in minutes (36.4), points (16.7) and steals (1.5) and has elevated his level of play the last five games, averaging 19.2 points and 9.4 rebounds. With Danny Granger battling injuries this season, George has stepped into a bigger role on the offensive end… If Kidd-Gilchrist’s defensive presence can disturb George, it could be essential for the Cats.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (9-25)
The Bobcats are 2-2 in their last four contests and now face a three-game road trip against the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. The Cats have won two consecutive road games and hope to continue their recent success on the road… Ben Gordon has been an efficient scorer for the Cats. In his last four outings he is averaging 20.0 points while making 55 percent of his shots and shooting 46 percent from behind the arc… The offense for the Bobcats has displayed a balanced scoring attack throughout the season with six players – Kemba Walker (17.8 points), Ramon Sessions (14.4), Gordon (13.8), Gerald Henderson (13.5), Byron Mullens (11.6) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (10.9) – averaging double figures… Defensively the Cats look to take advantage of their length and the defensive awareness that has led them to be ranked sixth in the NBA with 6.5 blocks.
SCOUTING THE RAPTORS (13-22)
Toronto has shown recent improvement by winning seven out of its last 10 games… The Raptors do a good job of distributing the basketball, as they are ranked 11th in the league in assists (22.1)… Toronto is also getting balanced contributions with five players – DeMar DeRozan (18.1 points), Andrea Bargnani (16.0), Kyle Lowry (14.6), Alan Anderson (11.8), Jose Calderon (10.2) – averaging double figures in scoring. Toronto is battling health issues with Bargnani, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas currently sidelined.
SCOUTING THE PACERS (21-14 as of 1/9)
Heading into their next matchup against the New York Knicks, the Indiana Pacers have won four out of their last five outings… The Pacers have been very efficient on the boards; they are ranked first in the league in rebounds (46.2) led by four-year veteran Roy Hibbert (8.4)… Indiana has also been adept at protecting the rim this season, turning away an average of 6.7 blocks – good enough for third in the league… Home court advantage has worked to the Pacers benefit this season as they boast a 13-3 record. It will be interesting to see if the Bobcats will put an end to the Pacers seven-game winning streak at home.
Be sure to follow the Bobcats this weekend as they travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors on Friday before heading to Indiana to play against the Pacers on Saturday. Both games are at 7 p.m. You can catch the 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.