Preview Pistons, Jazz, Bucks Inside
Keys to Beat Pistons, Jazz and Bucks

By Wesley Robinson, bobcats.com

December 19, 2013

KEY MATCHUP vs. PISTONS:Jeffery Taylor vs. Josh Smith

Jeffery Taylor has played well for the Bobcats, averaging 8.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on .376 percent shooting. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still out with a wrist injury, Taylor has been a stout defender, averaging 1.5 steals in the last five games. Standing at 6-7 and 213 pounds, Taylor brings great size and more cover ground for the Cats front and backcourts. With a reputation of being a strong defender, Taylor has ideal size to defend other opponents in the NBA at his position…Taylor will need to continue his high-level play and utilize his size when he matches up against Josh Smith when the Bobcats tip off against the Pistons. In 702 career games, Josh Smith has averaged 15.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals. Smith is also the only player in NBA history to boast career averages over 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals for his career. Taylor needs to find a way to at least slow Smith down if the Cats are going to take this win on the road.

KEY MATCHUP vs. JAZZ: Al Jefferson vs. Derrick Favors

After spending three years with the Utah Jazz, Bobcats center Al Jefferson will square off on the opposite end of the court against his former team. Jefferson led the Jazz in scoring (17.8 points) and rebounding (9.2), while also adding 2.1 assists, 1.14 blocks and 1.03 steals last season in 78 games (all starts). Jefferson’s low post scoring has been consistent for the Cats this season. He has scored in double figures in 12 straight games and has recorded double-doubles in six of his last 10 contests. In December, Jefferson is averaging 15.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting .440 from the field. On the defensive side, Jefferson has been a defensive specialist, averaging 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals this month… Jefferson will have his work cut out for him defensively as he tries to slow down his former teammate Derrick Favors. Favors won’t be a stranger to Jefferson – he served as a back up to Jefferson for three years, averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. Favors is averaging nearly a double-double this season with 13.6 points and 9.1 rebounds. In addition, he ranks in the Top 20 for rebounds and offensive rebounds as of Dec. 18. Whichever player comes out on top in the paint in this matchup may be an indication of who will take the game.

KEY MATCHUP vs. BUCKS: Josh McRoberts vs. John Henson

Josh McRoberts continues play well in the month of December, averaging 8.8 points on 51.6 percent shooting to go with 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Over his last nine games, McRoberts has scored in double figures five times and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds twice. He tallied his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 9 against Golden State, one game after pulling down 10 rebounds on Dec. 6 against Philadelphia. Defensively McRoberts has been strong as well, averaging 1.1 steals in the month of December. McRoberts has the ability to play passing lanes and force turnovers, which has been a key for Charlotte’s second-ranked defense this year... The Bobcats need McRoberts to have a strong outing, matching up against John Henson, who is also having a great month. In the month of December, Henson is averaging a double-double with 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds to go with 2.3 blocks. On Dec. 6, Henson scored season-high 19 points (8-for-10, .800), grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds and tied his career high with four assists. Henson is one of only three other Bucks players in the last 20 years to record 15+ points and 15+ rebounds while shooting 80 percent or better as he did on Dec. 6 (Larry Sanders, Andrew Bogut and Ervin Johnson are the others). McRoberts will need to keep Henson off the glass and look to pull him away from the basket to space the floor for big men Al Jefferson and Bismack Biyombo.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS

After holding the Kings to 87 points on Dec. 17, Charlotte held its opponents under 100 points for the 21st time this season, which is the most in the NBA. The Bobcats have held their opponent under 100 points in 21 of their 26 games this season, the most such games in the NBA. Prior to the game against Golden State on December 9, the Bobcats held 13 straight opponents under 100 points, which tied the second-longest streak in franchise history…The Bobcats are giving up only 92.3 points per game, which remains the second-lowest average in the NBA. In addition, the Bobcats are giving up the fewest fast break points (9.5), second-fewest second-chance points (11.5) and tied for the second-fewest points in the paint (35.0)…The Bobcats are also averaging 25.9 free throw attempts and have attempted more free throws than their opponent in 16 of their 24 contests this season… Since being drafted in 2011, Kemba Walker has played in all 173 regular-season games, joining Golden State’s Klay Thopson as the only two players in their draft class who have yet to miss a game. Walker’s streak of 173 consecutive games played surpassed Raymond Felton’s 170 to become the third longest in franchise history, behind only Boris Diaw’s 245 and Emeka Okafor’s 175.

SCOUTING THE PISTONS

The Detroit Pistons defeated the Indiana Pacers 101-96 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Dec. 16. Josh Smith led the Pistons with 30 points and Brandon Jennings scored 18 points…Greg Monroe recorded his 11th double-double of the year with 13 points and 12 rebounds...Detroit outrebounded Indiana 55-40 and the Pistons tied a season-low eight turnovers… Through 10 games this December, the Pistons hold a 6-4 record with road wins against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference (Miami on Dec. 3 and Indiana on Dec. 16) and an overtime loss to the Western Conference’s top team (Portland on Dec. 15)...Miami and Indiana have a combined record of 22-3 at home with the Pistons responsible for two of those three losses… With the youngest starting line up in the league with an average age of 23 years and 145 days, the Pistons are first in the NBA for most points in the paint with 51.6 points… Andre Drummond ranks in the top 10 of six major statistical categories among NBA centers this season.

SCOUTING THE JAZZ

Despite a career-high scoring performance from Alec Burks (31 points), the Utah Jazz fell 117-94 against the two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on Dec. 16… In the month of December, the Jazz are ranked fourth in the NBA for three-point percentage, making 59-of-147 for 40.1 percent (as of Dec. 18). Also in the month of December, the Jazz have shot 82.2 percent (139-for-169) from the charity stripe, ranking fourth in the NBA for free throw percentage during that period… In the past five games, the Jazz bench has contributed the ninth most scoring points in the league with an average of 34.0 points per game and fifth in bench rebounding with 17.2 rebounds. In addition to the Jazz being eighth in the league for offensive rebounds, Derrick Favors ranks in the Top 20 for rebounds per game and offensive rebounds per game, entering Dec. 18.

SCOUTING THE BUCKS

With Saturday’s loss to Dallas, the Bucks fell to 0-5 against the Western Conference… Second-year player John Henson is having a big impact for the Bucks this season. Henson has 17 games with 10+ points and recorded 16 total through 63 games in his rookie year. On Dec. 6 at Washington, Henson became one of four Bucks players in the last 20 years to record a game with 15+ points, 15+ rebounds and a field goal Percentage of .800 or better… The Bucks are getting significant minutes from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has grabbed 8+ rebounds in three consecutive games. He’s averaging 12.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 30.7 minutes over the last three games… Nate Wolters tallied a season-high 18 points last Wednesday against San Antonio – becoming the 10th different Bucks player to lead the team in points on at least one occasion this season.

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