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Keys to Beat Cavs, Pelicans

By Wesley Robinson, bobcats.com

October 31, 2013

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KEY MATCHUP vs. CAVALIERS: Kemba Walker vs. Kyrie Irving

After finishing the preseason 5-3 overall, the Bobcats will look to carry that momentum into the home opener. This could be a big game for Kemba Walker, as he matches off against Kyrie Irving. The last time these two faced off, Walker finished with 13 points and five assists and helped lead the Cats to a 105-92 win over the Cavaliers on Oct. 24 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Offensively, Walker has continued to be potent, leading the team in scoring (12.6 points), coming in second in assists (3.9) and managing to keep his turnovers relatively low (1.75) in the preseason. Defensively, Walker has been strong as well, brining down 3.4 rebounds and averaging 1.38 steals, including two takeaways in the last matchup against the Cavs… The last time Cleveland came to town, Irving finished with a team-high 20 points to go with three assists in the Cavs loss. For a team that relies heavily on scoring behind the presence of Irving (16.5 points, 5.1 assists in preseason), Walker’s ability to force turnovers should come in handy for the Cats defense. Walker has active hands and a strong sense of timing on defense, so given Irving’s averages from last season (22.5 points, 5.9 assists), it will be imperative for Walker to try and contain Irving offensively.

KEY MATCHUP vs. PELICANS: Josh McRoberts vs. Anthony Davis

Josh McRoberts has had a strong preseason averaging 11.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in his last five starts. He followed that up with a team-high 15 points in the Cats opener on Oct. 30 in Houston. McRoberts has played a key role in the Bobcats lineup with his ability to move the ball to the right players decisively all the time. Defensively, McRoberts made his defensive presence known in the preseason, finishing with a team-high 12 steals and tied for second in blocks (6)—only trailing Bismack Biyombo (16). McRoberts will need a strong outing facing off against Anthony Davis on Saturday… Entering in his sophomore season, Davis led his team in scoring in the preseason, averaging 19.9 points, along with 5.9 rebounds and 2.00 blocks in 27.4 minutes of action. Long, talented big men are rare in today’s NBA, and Davis is proving to have all the tools to be a special player and a staple of the league’s future. With McRoberts ability to space the floor, it should create opportunities for McRoberts to pull Davis out of the paint, creating a one-on-one matchup for big men Al Jefferson or Cody Zeller.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (0-1)

The Bobcats wrapped up their preseason, 5-3, after cutting a 19-point deficient to steal away an 85-83 win against the New York Knicks on Oct. 25. The Bobcats have held their last seven-out-eight opponents under 90 points in the preseason and gave up a league low-83.9 points per game. The Bobcats also ranked third in opponent field goal percentage, with opposing teams shooting only 0.396 from the field… The only team in the league to have held their opponents under 90 points in every preseason game, the Bobcats also won the battle on the boards in their last three-out-of-four opponents—including two 20-rebound performances from Bismack Biyombo… With Al Jefferson back in the lineup, Head Coach Steve Clifford wants the Bobcats to get the ball into the paint. With Jefferson’s presence, he will facilitate opportunities for his teammates to convert on high percentage shots, kick the ball out for an open 3-pointer and create transition buckets.

SCOUTING THE CAVALIERS (1-0)

Through eight preseason games, the Cavs had five players averaging double figures in scoring—Kyrie Irving (16.5), Tristan Thompson (12.5), C.J. Miles (12.0), Dion Waiters (10.4) and Tristan Thompson (12.0). Off the bench, Henry Sims has shot .809 (17-21) from the field over the past five games… In the last matchup against the Bobcats, Irving finished with a team-high 20 points on 6-for-13 shooting (46.1 percent) from the field, including 2-for-5 (40.0 percent) from the 3-point line, and three assists in 26 minutes. Irving has scored in double figures in each of team’s eight preseason games, and finished with 16.5 points, while shooting .438 (14-32) from long distance and .865 (32-37) from the foul line, 5.1 assists and 1.38 steals in 25.4 minutes in the preseason. He also recorded a double-double performance (17 points, 12 assists) against Philadelphia on Oct. 21… Thompson also added some sturdy minutes for the Cavs, averaging 14.3 points and 12.6 rebounds in 27.6 minutes in the last three preseason contests.

SCOUTING THE PELICANS (0-1)

The new-look Pelicans were one of the top teams in the league in the preseason, finishing 7-1. Riding strong performances from several key players, the Pelicans had six players in double figure scoring averages in the preseason—Anthony Davis (19.9), Eric Gordon (17.0), Anthony Morrow (12.5), Ryan Anderson (11.9), Jrue Holiday (11.8) and Brian Roberts (11.7)… With new additions, Holiday and Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans are looking to make their team much more competitive and create more scoring options in the frontcourt. However, there are still ways Davis can make an impact… Davis’ rookie season was one to remember, as his season averages lumps him in a group with some of the greatest big men to ever play the game. Davis became just the fifth rookie in NBA history to record averages of at least 13.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals and 1.0 assists. Davis also became the youngest player in the history of the NBA to record these statistical averages in a season.

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