The Bobcats enter tonight’s game against the Pacers coming off an overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Despite the loss it was a nice effort from a team that’s effort has been questionable at times this season. We finally got to see D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker play together for an extended period of time and it worked for the most part on the offensive end. Not so much on the defensive end, but that’s to be expected.
As for the Bobcats’ opponent, the Pacers have quietly assembled a pretty solid roster. Darren Collison heads the point for Indiana and Danny Granger, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough make out the rest of the starting five. It’s clear that Indiana’s a team on the rise but the Pacers are still a piece away from being a legitimate contender. Nevertheless, the Pacers are on a different level than the Bobcats right now.
Both teams are on the end of a back-to-back, so each team is going to have tired legs. In order for the Bobcats to come away with the W they are going to need a couple of exceptional performances. It has been the case in each of their two wins this season. Against Milwaukee Boris Diaw almost had a triple-double and Gerald Henderson and Augustin were close to finishing with double-doubles.
The New York game the Bobcats took advantage of a terrible Knicks defense and hit some ridiculous shots to quiet any run they made. It’s going to take a two or three players to have a big game on the offensive end in order for Charlotte to win, because we all know that on the defensive side of the ball the Bobcats aren’t getting it done.
Matchup to watch
Byron Mullens has surprised everyone with his play to start the season. The seven-foot center has a silky smooth jumper and is instant offense off the bench. His defense and rebounding need to improve at this stage in his career, but with more minutes we should start to see improvement. Mullens will be opposing Pacers center Roy Hibbert tonight in a matchup of contrasting styles.
Hibbert is going to get his points on the block and off tip ins and dunks, whereas Mullens is going to get his on jumpers beyond the elbow. Paul Silas indicated after the loss to the Hawks that lineup changes could be made soon, with Mullens being the beneficiary of said changes. I’m assuming that he gets the start and will be pitted up against Hibbert from the opening tip.
If Mullens does indeed get the start I expect him and Hibbert to trade punches, with Hibbert taking over down low and Mullens hitting deep jumpers.
Picking against the Bobcats this season is going to be a common theme for many this season. I don’t see any reason to think that Charlotte can go into Indiana and win this game. The Pacers are young and hungry and are going to go balls to the wall every game this season in order secure a high seed. Collison could have a field day with his ability to penetrate and Augustin and Walker’s inability to stay in front of opposing guards. All in all I don’t feel confident about this game for the ‘Cats.
Prediction: Indiana 103, Charlotte 88