By Wesley Robinson
October 11, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. HEAT
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor vs. LeBron James
Bobcats Forwards Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor will have to be on the top of their games when they take on LeBron James, arguably the best player in the NBA who also has a knack for making everyone around him better on both ends of the court. If MKG and Taylor can contain James enough to slow down the Heat’s supporting cast, particularly Ray Allen and Shane Battier, it could be the key to the Cats coming away with a victory. Gilchrist and Taylor are both quality perimeter defenders with size – one of the few things that can be disruptive to James. The Bobcats best chance to push the defending, back-to-back NBA champions is to pressure on James and limit his chances at the rim.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (0-1, preseason)
The Bobcats might not have come away with the win on October 8 in Asheville, but their excitement over what they saw on the court and their belief in where it can take them, is grounded in reality. Despite giving up 33 points to Atlanta in the first quarter, the Bobcats bounced back with a strong defensive effort, holding the Hawks to only 54 points in remaining three quarters. That defensive presence will be needed to slow down a high-power Miami Heat offense. “We have to be in our right spots on the defensive end,” Kemba Walker said of taking on the Heat. “And we have to find ways to get (Al Jefferson) the ball.” … Jefferson finished with seven points and nine rebounds in his Charlotte debut but only managed to take just six shots against the Hawks. Since returning to practice, the Bobcats have been working on getting the ball to Jefferson more in the post in the hopes of creating a one-on-one match with anyone defending him. Assuming the Heat plan to bring the double team against Jefferson down low, this could play into the Bobcats favor in finding high percentage looks for other players on the perimeter or cutting to the basket… The Bobcats also got strong minutes out of rookie forward Cody Zeller in his Cats debut. He finished with nine points and five rebounds in 24 minutes, tying for second in scoring amongst the Bobcats starters. Zeller’s strong play could play out nicely in Head Coach Steve Clifford’s system when he opts for a four-out and one-in offensive scheme, which could also play into Jefferson’s strengths in the post. “We have to be in the right spots and have ways to get the ball back to (Jefferson),” said Clifford. “Or just take advantage of the two-on-one that (Jefferson) is creating because they are bringing a second defender to him.” … Off the bench, Ramon Sessions adds a degree of energy for the Bobcats offense. After leading the Bobcats with a team-high 17 points in Asheville, Sessions ability to score and get to he free-throw line makes him an important asset, and he could be instant offense off the bench against Miami.
SCOUTING THE HEAT (2-0, preseason)
The Miami Heat begin their NBA title defense coming off their second-straight preseason win, 112-107, over the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 10 in Detroit. Miami is fantastic when it is able to break out and create transition baskets. When the Heat win, an average of 12.4 percent of their points have come on the fast break from two of the best open-court players in the NBA – LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The key for the Cats is to not let them control the tempo of the game…. After opting to amnesty shooting guard Mike Miller, the Heat have also been able to bring some new faces to their team – signing free agents Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. Oden is not ready to play yet, as he continues to work his way back after not playing in official game since 2009 because of knee injuries. Beasley is no stranger to the Heat’s organization, as he was drafted No. 2 in the 2008 NBA draft by Miami. Coming into training camp, Oden and Beasley are two of the three highest drafted players on the team’s roster looking to salvage their careers in Miami.
The Cats tip off against the Heat at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. Listen to the game on WFNZ.