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Keys to Beat Nets, Thunder

By Mark Kern
bobcats.com
March 8, 2012

KEY MATCHUP
Gerald Henderson vs. Deron Williams

Last Sunday, Deron Williams was the difference as the point guard scored an NBA season-high 57 points as the Nets beat the Bobcats, 104-101. He was able to use his size and strength against the Bobcats short point guards, which helped him get to the line 21 times, where he hit all 21… Late in the third quarter, Bobcats Head Coach Paul Silas switched things up and put the larger Gerald Henderson. Look for the Bobcats to potentially start Henderson on Williams, and put Augustin on shooting guard MarShon Brooks. Brooks has five inches on Augustin but is the type of player that hangs around the 3-point line. By putting Henderson on Williams, it takes away from Williams going to the post and getting to the line. If Henderson is able to stay in front of Williams when he drives, then Williams should not come close to duplicating last Sunday’s historic performance.

Bismack Biyombo vs. Serge Ibaka
When Serge Ibaka entered the league, he was known as an extremely athletic power forward, but he was very raw. Most of his points came on offensive rebounds and on the fast break. However, in his third year in the league, he has developed and 18-foot jumper, which makes him dangerous when he screens for Russell Westbrook. The defense has to respect his ability to hit that shot, and that allows him more opportunities to get to the rim and dunk the ball… Biyombo is very similar to Ibaka as a player that is extremely athletic but considered a little raw in his game… The progress that Biyombo has made in such a short period of time suggests he is well on his way to make the improvements Ibaka made... Against the Magic, he twice got the ball on the block, did a shoulder-shake and hit a turnaround jumper. He had not shown that part of his game this season, and is continuing to improve his offensive game. This will be a battle of two of the league’s top shot-blockers, so anybody entering the paint may want to think twice.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (5-32)
During the homestand, the Bobcats have put together as good of a three-game stretch as they have all season. They have been more aggressive on both ends of the court, especially the way they have attack the rim… In the three home games, the Bobcats have gotten to the line 103 times, hitting 83 of them (80.5 percent)…. The main reason for this aggressiveness is Corey Maggette, who has hit 36 of 39 his free throws (92.3 percent)… The Bobcats have also amped things up on the defensive end, extending their pressure farther up the court. They have been allowed to do this because the Bobcats bigs have done a great job protecting the rim, ranking third in the league in blocked shots with six a game… The Bobcats feel that by playing this aggressive defense, it allows them to get out more on the fast break for easy baskets.

SCOUTING THE NETS (13-27)
The Nets are starting to play some of their best basketball this season and are coming off an impressive 101-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers… Jordan Farmar knocked down a three with 0.2 seconds left in the game to secure the victory… With Williams at the point, the Nets have one of the best in the business and have surrounded him with great young talent. Rookie MarShon Brooks is improving every day and has given the Nets a big-time third scorer to go with Williams and Brook Lopez… Against the Bobcats last Sunday, the Bobcats were able to hold Lopez to six points and three rebounds, but he was also limited due to an ankle injury that will keep him out of this contest.

SCOUTING THE THUNDER (31-8 as of 3/8)
The Thunder are the top team in the West and a legitimate title contender because of an explosive offense. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Oklahoma City has three guys capable of big scoring games on any given night. Westbrook has done a great job continuing to improve as a point guard. He is still sporadic with turnovers and questionable shot selection, but he is becoming one of the best players in the league and will only continue to get better…. However, it is the emergence of Serge Ibaka that makes this team even more dangerous. Ibaka leads the league with 3.2 blocks per game, and has 25 more blocks than the next closest guy…. His ability to block shots allows the Thunder to gamble for more steals and get out on the fastbreak, where they are at their absolute best.

TUNE IN
The Bobcats tip off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday against the Thunder at Time Warner Cable Arena®. The Bobcats will then head to Oklahoma City to take on the high-flying Thunder on Saturday at 8 p.m. Catch all the action on Sport South, listen to us on WFNZ and join us for the live chat on bobcats.com.

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