After back-to-back embarrassing efforts against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, the Bobcats followed it up with their worst yet against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs manhandled the Bobcats like they were a younger brother. Cleveland is an improved team this year but for Charlotte to get spanked like it did is beyond concerning. Due to a condensed schedule, teams won’t have the luxury of practicing nearly as much as they would have been during a normal season. The lack of practices will hurt this Bobcats team which will be forced to gel on the court in games as opposed to developing better chemistry in practice.
Tonight, Charlotte gets the task of playing a much better team than the Cavs in the New York Knicks. The Knicks have been shorthanded the past couple games with Amare Stoudemire out with an ankle injury, and it’s possible the All-Star power forward will be back in the lineup tonight along with Iman Shumpert who has been out since Christmas day. Getting the two back would be devastating for the Bobcats’ chances of winning tonight, especially if Amare plays.
The biggest problem for Charlotte in its four-game losing streak has been the play on the defensive end, where the Bobcats are currently giving up 107 points per game. In contrast the ‘Cats are scoring just 92.2 points per game, which equates to a negative 14.8 point differential. That isn’t going to get it done.
The defensive efforts by some has been pathetic at best (cough, Corey Maggette, cough). D.J. Augustin was the only consistent offensive threat against the Cavs and it was vital to have him on the court as much as possible, but Kyrie Irving abused him on the drive throughout the contest. The Knicks don’t have anyone on the roster as quick as Irving so Augustin should fare better tonight, although the biggest matchup will come down to Maggette containing Carmelo Anthony.
I chuckle to myself thinking about Maggette trying to stop Anthony. Maggette has been so bad on the defensive end that it is becoming high comedy watching him play. I was really hoping that he would come out and have a strong season and make himself an attractive trade chip but that isn’t going to happen. Not only is he lazy on defense he is equally as bad on offense right now. If ‘Melo doesn’t score 40 tonight I’d be surprised.
The Knicks play at a fast pace so this is a game we finally may get to see Augustin and Kemba Walker in the backcourt together more often. Putting those two together would give the offense a shot in the arm, even though it would hurt on the defensive end, it’s not like the team has played a lick of defense the past few games anyways. Paul Silas has to start to get creative with lineups and force teams to adjust to how the Bobcats are playing. As of now it feels like Charlotte is a step behind every team.
Without Tyrus Thomas’ presence in the paint, the Bobcats are going to continue to struggle to stop opponents from scoring. If Stoudemire finds his way on the court tonight it could get ugly for the ‘Cats. This isn’t a team designed to play in the 100s, so it’s going to take a great effort from Charlotte to hang with New York. A loss seems inevitable but it would be nice to see a competitive game for a change.