Watch It! - Celtics at Bobcats
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats meet at 7 p.m. tonight at Time Warner Cable Arena.
It wasn’t difficult to predict that these teams’ first meeting would be played with scored in the 80s. Charlotte (third) and Boston (10th) are both top-10 teams when it comes to opponent scoring.
Sure enough, Charlotte came out on top with an 89-83 win on Nov. 13. Both teams shot less than 38 percent from the field as they made their way through an ugly game.
Don’t be shocked if a similar story plays out tonight. Head coaches Brad Stevens and Steve Clifford have both put an emphasis on defense and that mindset isn’t going anywhere.
Jared Sullinger missed these teams’ Nov. 13 matchup with a bone bruise in his right knee. Sullinger has since fully recovered and will be out there for tonight’s game.
Charlotte can’t be excited about that fact. Sullinger has been phenomenal this season while averaging 12.7 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. He has averaged 15.7 PPG and 10.3 RPG over his last three contests.
Though Sullinger will be outsized by Al Jefferson, the Bobcats have to be worried about this matchup. Boston’s second-year big man has proven to be able to get his shot off against any defender and he has been Boston’s most consistent rebounder. His presence will certainly change the tenor of this matchup compared to that of the Nov. 13 meeting.
Big Al’s Health
Speaking of Jefferson, he’s going to be playing in his third game in four nights. That stretch comes after Jefferson missed four straight games with a sprained right ankle.
Jefferson seemed to regain his form during Charlotte’s win over Milwaukee Saturday night. He finished that contest with a team-best 19 points. He also grabbed seven boards, all in just 25 minutes of action.
The Bobcats had to love seeing Jefferson play so well, but they also must be concerned with how his ankle will react to another game. This injury has been lingering all season long and it could cause some issues tonight.
Take Care of the Ball
One of the key factors in Boston winning or losing is its ability to take care of the ball. The C’s have averaged 18.8 turnovers per game during their losses but have sliced that number down to 14.8 a night during their wins.
Boston should be able to minimize its turnovers tonight as long as its primary ball handlers and perimeter players make good decisions. Charlotte has a great halfcourt defense but it does not force many turnovers. The Bobcats are in the middle of the pack in the league when it comes to forcing turnovers, ranking 14th with its 15.8 per game.
Make Walker High-Volume Shooter
Kemba Walker is Charlotte’s top scorer this season with an average of 15.6 PPG. However, he was anything but when these teams matched up 12 days ago.
Walker had one of the worst shooting performances of his career (and that’s saying a lot) in Boston as the C’s forced him to miss 12 of his 13 field goal attempts. He’s unlikely to have another game like that, but Walker can be turned into a high-volume shooter with low efficiency. Walker has made just 36.7 percent of his shots this season and 39.8 percent of his shots in his career.
It was quite a surprise that Charlotte was able to overcome such a poor performance by its top scorer, and it surely wouldn’t be easy to do so again.