By Mark Kern
April 3, 2012
Kemba Walker vs. Jose Calderon
Kemba Walker has had an impressive rookie season for the Bobcats, averaging 12.0 points, 4.2 assists and 3.3 rebounds. He’s also posting a 2.44 assist-to-turnover ratio – an impressive statistic for any player, let alone a rookie… Walker has also shown the ability to put a lot of pressure on the opponent he is defending, and against the Raptors he will be matched up with Jose Calderon… On the season, Calderon is averaging 10.5 points, 8.8 assists (tied with Chris Paul for third in the NBA) and 3.2 rebounds… He is a pass-first point guard but is also capable of hitting the outside shot… Calderon is at his best when he is running the pick-and-roll and is able to decide whether to score or dish the ball… In this matchup, Walker will need to push the tempo and attack Calderon on the offensive end. Calderon is not known for his defense, and if Walker is able to exploit this matchup, then the Bobcats have a great chance for their third win of the season over Toronto.
Gerald Henderson vs. Joe Johnson
Gerald Henderson is averaging 14.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists this season. He is a strong combo guard that is able to make plays both driving the ball, as well with his mid-range game… Henderson is also a great defender, where he uses his size and quickness to harass his opponent, and his defense will be called upon in his matchup with Joe Johnson… Johnson is one of the best pure scorers in the NBA, averaging 19.1 points and 3.7 rebounds, and like Henderson, is able to score in many different ways… A key to this matchup will be for Henderson to get after Johnson early on the offensive end because when Johnson has to work hard on the defensive end, he is not as effective on offense... Look for Henderson to really get after Johnson on both ends of the court.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (7-43)
Head Coach Paul Silas announced that he is going to try and get the younger guys more playing time to see what they can do as the season winds down. Players like Bismack Biyombo, Byron Mullens and the aforementioned Walker will get extended minutes to show what they can bring to the team in the future… The Bobcats lost a heart-breaking overtime game to the Pistons on Saturday night in which they took a nine-point lead to the fourth quarter… Mullens was big in that game, nearly finishing with a double-double, totaling 20 points and nine rebounds… Charlotte will look to push the ball on offense and really get after teams on the defensive end to force some turnovers.
SCOUTING THE RAPTORS (18-35)
The Raptors are led by the big man Andrea Bargnani, who leads the team with 19.4 points. He is a matchup problem because of his size and the ability to stretch the defense with his perimeter shooting. The Raptors love to use him with Calderon in the pick-and-roll offense, where he also looks to pop and hit the outside shot… Toronto also does a great job of limiting second chances, allowing their opponents to only grab 10.3 offensive rebounds, second only to the San Antonio Spurs. DeMar DeRozan gives the Raptors an athletic wing player that will attack the rim any time he can. He has also been effective this year against the Bobcats, averaging 22.0 points in the two matchups… With the Bobcats ranking sixth in the league in blocked shots, it will be interesting how much DeRozan will attack the rim.
SCOUTING THE HAWKS (31-23)
Many people thought the Hawks would struggle after All-Star center Al Horford went out with an injured pectoral muscle, but led by Johnson and Josh Smith, the Hawks are only 1.5 games out of the third seed in the Eastern Conference… Smith has been especially key to the team’s success, averaging career highs in points, (18.8) and rebounds (9.8)… He has attacked the rim much more this year, rather than settling for jump shots like he has in the past… Third-year point guard Jeff Teague is starting to come into his own, averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds… Teague made a name for himself last year in the playoff series in a matchup against Derrick Rose, where he averaged 17.0 points before injuring his wrists. He is an explosive athlete that looks to attack off the dribble, and his ability to get in the lane can create a lot of havoc… The Bobcats cannot afford to let him get inside the paint, because if he does, the Hawks are tough to beat.
The Bobcats take on the Toronto Raptors tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre. There will be no time for rest, as they will travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks on Wednesday. Opening tipoff will be at 7:30 p.m. at Phillips Arena. Catch all the action on SportSouth and listen to us on WFNZ. Also, don’t forget to join the chat at bobcats.com.
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