By Mark Kern & Matt Rochinski
January 13, 2012
D.J. Augustin vs. Monta Ellis
Augustin leads the Bobcats with averages of 15.4 points and 6.8 assists and is also bringing down 3.7 rebounds each contest. After scoring 20-or-more points in three of four games early in January, he’s averaged 10.3 points on 34 percent shooting from the field in Charlotte’s three games entering Friday against Detroit. Augustin needs to find his scoring touch against the up-tempo Warriors, and his quickness will be key defensively, as Monta Ellis gets to the rim as easily as any guard in the NBA.
Ellis is being counted on more as Stephen Curry continues to be hampered by an ankle injury. He’s averaging 24.6 points and 7.9 assists overall this season, which puts him fifth and tied for 8th in the league, respectively. As of Friday, Ellis has his seen his scoring increase to 25.5 points and his assists dip to 7.5 with Curry out, so he’s definitely taking on more of the offensive load. However, he’s doing it in volume, averaging 22.5 shots and connecting on 41 percent of those shots. Bringing that percentage down could be the key for Augustin and the Bobcats.
Boris Diaw vs. Anderson Varejao
Diaw is averaging 9.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists as of Friday His versatility has enabled him to make his presence felt in different ways thus far in the season, but he needs to find some consistency in his performance night in and night out. Prior to facing the Pistons, he had scored 0, 4, 19, 2, 10, 27, 0 and 5 points in eight January games. Diaw will need to bring his "A game," as he will go up against Anderson Varejao, one of the hardest working players in the league in an early Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee.
Varejao (9.3 points and 10.9 rebounds) has been one of most underrated players in the NBA and is going to give 100 percent effort every night. The Cavaliers do not draw up plays for him to score – he has to go get the rebound or hustle on the fast break to get his points. Varejao’s biggest strength is his ability to bring down boards. He is able to give the Cavaliers more offensive possessions with his offensive rebounding, or help set Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers up for fast breaks on the defensive end. If he is able to dominate the glass, it will make things a lot harder for the Bobcats.
SCOUTING THE WARRIORS (3-7 as of 1/13)
After years of being one of the top scoring teams in the league, the Warriors are not scoring at nearly the same rate under first-year Head Coach Marc Jackson, who has made it his main focus to improve his team at the defensive end. That does not mean this team is still not capable for going off for 120 on any given night. With Ellis, Dorrell Wright and now Nate Robinson, who chipped in 24 points in their recent victory over the Heat, the Warriors have a lot of guys who can have big scoring nights, even with Curry sidelined. The Bobcats must get back on defense, as Golden State will look to get up and down the floor. The two teams split the season series 1-1 last year with both teams winning on the road.
SCOUTING THE CAVALIERS (5-5 as of 1/13)
After a terrible season in year one of post-Lebron, the Cavaliers have shown improvement in year two. Credit much of this improvement to the play of rookies Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Irving (16.6 points, 5.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds) has proven so far that the Cavaliers made the right pick when they took him with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Thompson (7.8 points and 4.7 rebounds) does not quite have the statistics that Irving does, but has given the Cavaliers a post player down low that should continue to develop into a solid player in the years to come. This youth matched up with veterans like Antawn Jamison (17.3 points, 5.8 rebounds), Varejao and Daniel Gibson (8.1 points, 19 3-pointers), has given the Cavaliers hope that they are on the right track to contending in the future. The Cavaliers took the earlier matchup this season, 115-101, over Bobcats on January 3 at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Bobcats tip off Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against the Warriors at Time Warner Cable Arena® and face the Cavs at 2 p.m. Monday for a MLK Day Matinee at Time Warner Cable Arena®. You can see both games on SportSouth. You can also catch all the action on WFNZ. Don't forget to join the live chat on bobcats.com.