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Keys to Beat Bucks, Hawks & Wizards

By Mark Kern
April 5, 2012

Byron Mullens vs. Ersan Illyasova

Since being inserted back into the starting lineup three games ago, Byron Mullens has picked up his game, averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds while giving the Bobcats some scoring down low... However, it has been on the defensive end where his play has improved. Mullens ranks third on the team with 41 blocks, and the Bobcats are tied for 6th in the league in that category… He will be matched up with Ersan Illyasova, who is averaging 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. He is a versatile power forward who can score in a variety of ways… He will provide Mullens with an opportunity to show his defensive improvement because of this versatility.

Bismack Biyombo vs. Josh Smith
In his rookie year, Bismack Biyombo has shown the ability to change a game on the defensive end because of his shot blocking… His 1.7 blocks rank 1st among all rookies… However, his biggest challenge has been to stay on the ground and not buy the pump fake, and Josh Smith was able to take advantage of this last time the two met…. The two players matched up Wednesday and Smith got the better of Biyombo with 24 points and nine rebounds… Due to a shoulder injury to Al Horford, the Hawks have needed Smith to take his game to another level, and that is what he has done… Earlier in the season, Biyombo was matched up with and Roy Hibbert, and Hibbert was able to win the battle. However, the next game against Hibbert, Biyombo showed he learns quickly from his mistakes. In that game, he flirted with a triple-double by grabbing 10 rebounds, to go along with nine points and six blocks.

Kemba Walker vs. John Wall
When these two squared off on January 28, Kemba Walker got the better of John Wall, finishing the game with his first-career triple-double (20 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds)… Walker is having a solid rookie season, averaging 12.2 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds… For being a rookie point guard, he has shown the ability to take care of the ball, posting a 2.38 assist-to-turnover ratio... Walker has shown the ability to play under control and will need to do that against Washington when turnovers can turn to easy points fast… Wall has put up big numbers all year, averaging 16.6 points, 7.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds… His speed and athleticism rivals that of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook… Wall is at his best when he is in attack mode and getting to the rim… Look for Kemba to try and turn Wall into a jumpshooter, especially from 3-point land, where Wall is only shooting 8.6 percent…. If Wall is forced to be a jumpshooter, then the Bobcats have a greater chance for a victory.

Charlotte has shown great balance scoring the ball, having been led by four different guys in the last five games… The Bobcats are at their best when they are getting up and down the court and using their athleticism to create easy scoring opportunities… In the past two games, the Bobcats are averaging 100.0 points… On defense, the Bobcats are trying to extend pressure, especially on opposing guards. The Bobcats big guys are not extremely bulky, so the more ball pressure they put on, the harder it makes for the opposing team to feed the post.

Since acquiring guard Monta Ellis, the Bucks are 7-4 and are only one game behind the New York Knicks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference… The small backcourt duo of Ellis and Brandon Jennings has played well, with both of them capable for going off for 30 points on any given night…. The Bucks may be without Drew Gooden, who missed Wednesday night’s game due to a sore back…Ekpe Udoh, another guy in the Ellis trade, filled in nicely for Gooden, scoring 11 points and eight rebounds… The Bucks are the 6th highest scoring team in the league at 98.9 points… Milwaukee also relies on forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets, and with their starting backcourt, they are more than capable of doing this.

SCOUTING THE HAWKS (32-23 as of 4/5)
The two teams met on Wednesday in Atlanta and the Hawks prevailed, 120-93… It was a solid team effort by the Hawks on the offensive end, with six guys scoring in double-figures, led by Josh Smith with 24 points and nine rebounds… Marvin Williams came off the bench and gave the Hawks 17 points and created a size mismatch… Atlanta is in sixth place in the East, despite losing All-Star center Al Horford to injury… The Bobcats must slow down the Hawks and be efficient on the offensive end.

SCOUTING THE WIZARDS (12-42 as of 4/5)
The Wizards traded disgruntled center JaVale McGee to the Denver Nuggets and brought in center Nene… On the season, Nene is averaging 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds but has missed Washington’s last three contests with plantar fasciitis… Second-year guard Jordan Crawford has emerged into a consistent scoring threat, averaging 14.7 points and has been on fire as of late from 3-point land, where he has shot 10 of 19 in his last three games… Wall and Crawford give the Wizards a nice scoring tandem that can have big games on any given night… Where this team struggles is on the defensive end, giving up 100.2 points – the fourth worst in the league… Look for the Bobcats guards to attack the paint and decide to score or kick it out to the wide-open shooter.

The Bobcats tipoff at 8:30 p.m. Friday against the Bucks at the Bradley Center... Charlotte will then get a rematch with Atlanta on Saturday, with opening tip off scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena… They will have Sunday off before hosting the Wizards on Monday at 7:00 p.m… Catch all the action on SportSouth, listen to us on WFNZ and join us for the live chat on

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