By Jace Darling
October 14, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. CAVALIERS
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Tristan Thompson
The Bobcats finish up their three-game road trip with an 8 p.m. tip in Canton, OH against the Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson averaged a near double-double in 2012-13 with career highs of 11.7 points and 9.4 rebounds in 31.3 minutes. His play improved over the last 56 games of the season, as he totaled 26 double-doubles and averaged 13.2 points and 10.3 rebounds. With the emergence of Thompson on the high block, it will prove to be a great matchup for Bobcats second-year pro, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist is known for his hard charging motor and relentlessness on the defensive end, and given Thompson’s averages from last year, Kidd-Gilchrist will need to try and keep him off the boards. That could be a large job in and of itself, due to the fact that Thompson set the Cavaliers franchise record for most offensive rebounds in a single season with 306, averaging 3.7 per game in 82 starts.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (1-2, preseason)
After a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory on Oct. 12 against the Bucks, the Cats will look to build on that fourth-quarter momentum… This game could be big for Kemba Walker, as he matches up against Kyrie Irving, who is coming off of his first All-Star season. Walker led the Bobcats in scoring (17.7), assists (5.7) and steals (2.0), while also averaging 3.5 rebounds in 34.9 minutes last season. He was one of five players in the NBA who led their team in scoring, assists and steals, but also among the five was Cleveland’s Irving… As Al Jefferson recovers from a right ankle injury, Bismack Biyombo is seeing increased minutes. He got the start in Milwaukee and finished with a game-high 21 rebounds and also dropped in nine points. That presence on the glass will be needed to help slow down Tristan Thompson… With Jefferson out again, the Cats again will turn to Biyombo, and may enlist the help of rookie Cody Zeller who may see some time at center. In that scenario, Josh McRoberts would play the four in what Coach Steve Clifford calls “the small” line-up. Which is a bit of a misnomer given that Zeller is a legit seven footer and McRoberts stands at 6-10.
SCOUTING THE CAVALIERS (2-0, preseason)
The Cavaliers had 35 games decided by six points or fewer in 2012-13, which tying Dallas for the most in the NBA this past season. Their 35 games are the most by the franchise since also having 35 such games back in 2007-08… This team rests on the back and shoulders of Kyrie Irving. Irving had a strong 2012-13 campaign, making his first All-Star appearance and averaging 22.5 points, including a .391 mark from deep, 5.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 34.7 minutes over 59 contests (all starts). He joined Lenny Wilkens as the only Cavs player to average at least 20.0 points and 5.0 assists, while shooting .800 or better from the charity stripe in a single season. Irving became the fourth No. 1 overall pick in NBA history to average at least 20 points and five assists through a player’s first two seasons (Oscar Robertson, Allen Iverson and LeBron James). (STATS, Inc.)… Due to a hip injury, the brother of Bobcats forward Cody Zeller and former UNC standout, Tyler Zeller was already going to be sidelined. However, to make matters much worse, Zeller had an emergency appendectomy Saturday and is now out indefinitely. This should give rookie and number one overall pick Anthony Bennett plenty of playing time.
The game can be heard live on WFNZ 610am, The Fan.