The Bobcats gave the Clippers a solid fight in a 100-94 loss on Wednesday night, but enter their third meeting with the Atlanta Hawks on an embarrassing nine game slide. They’ll have to pull off an upset on Thursday night to keep it from extending to 10 straight losses, and try to turn the month of December around.
The Hawks are a legit player in the Eastern Conference, but Charlotte played them tight in one game and fairly well in another. The Bobcats are struggling with defense and finishing games right now, but they have all of their main players are should be ready to give the Hawks a strong contest.
Let’s break down each position and figure out whether or not Charlotte will come away with a victory in tonight’s game:
1. The Point – Edge: Hawks
I love what Kemba Walker is doing and the mixing in of Ramon Sessions has worked out quite well. However, neither of those guys are stalwarts on the defensive end. Jeff Teague does play solid defense, and he can also dish and score a bit, too. Devin Harris is an elite backup point guard who plays the two and subs as needed. Louis Williams is the icing on the cake as a great scorer who can run the point in a pinch.
2. The Wings – Edge: Bobcats
Kyle Korver is the best pure shooter of either team, and really one of the best in the league. DeShawn Stevenson is an OK shooter and can really D up the opposition, too, but this one goes to Charlotte. Jeffery Taylor has size and length, Gerland Henderson has an evolving, solid game, and Ben Gordon can chuck from deep for days. The Bobcats are deeper at the wing spot and can run the floor better, too.
3. The Bigs – Edge: Hawks
Byron Mullens is a nice offensive player with upside all around, while Bismack Biyombo can be a defensive stopper and continues to get better. But it really stops there down low for Charlotte, and we all know that. Even if Tyrus Thomas was healthy and playing good basketball, I’d still have to take Josh Smith’s jumper and Al Horford’s toughness inside on both ends of the floor. Add Zaza Pachulia in the paint, and the Hawks win the battle inside with ease.
4. The Coach – Edge: Hawks
Atlanta has slightly more experience and discipline, and it shows through their head coach, Larry Drew. He was solid last year, and he’s pushed a team sans Joe Johnson to actually be even better. I like what I’ve seen out of Mike Dunlap in spurts, but he still has a ways to go. Drew makes more sound decisions more consistently, so I’ll still give him the coaching edge.
5. The Verdict: Bobcats Win
I know I initially aimed high on the Bobcats going into the year, but as it turns out, they actually won one more game than I predicted. Their rookie coach is better than advertised and they have a nice chameleon approach against their opponents, as they’re able to transform their game and tempo to match anyone. I think the third time is the charm here, as the Bobcats get off the schneid with a lose 97-95 win tonight.