When fully healthy, the Charlotte Bobcats might just be the worst team in the NBA. Without Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin, well, it's a little less debatable. The Sixers have made a habit out of destroying teams like this, they need to keep their foot on the gas tonight and chalk up another road win heading into another tough stretch of games beginning Wednesday.
The Bobcats have lost 14 consecutive games, they have the worst offense in the league (by nearly 3 points-per-100-possessions) and the second-worst defense in the league (2.5 pp100p better than the hapless Nets). They're starting a couple of rookies at key positions. Kemba Walker was supposed to be a realized talent coming into the league after three seasons at UCONN, but he's been woefully bad. Bismack Biyombo has the raw athleticism teams crave, but he may never contribute in a meaningful way on the offensive end, even though his shotblocking and rebounding have been impressive.
Surrounding the two rookies are a hodgepodge of middling NBA talent, guys who maybe should be better than they are but for whatever reason found themselves landing in Charlotte where they're playing out the string for a lottery-hopeful.
This is a sad team, folks, and an easy opponent to overlook with Orlando and Dallas looming later this week. I'd like to see Jrue come out as aggressive as he was against the Cavs. He has a tremendous size and skill advantage over Kemba, he needs to continue to move his game closer to the hoop, if he gets to the rim, he needs to put his body into Biyombo, otherwise his shots will get swatted. Over the past two games combined, Jrue has attempted only 3 shots from 16-23 feet, 8 at the rim. It's no coincidence he's gotten to the line 14 times over that span as well.
It's tough to assume anything with the Bobcats, but a wise coach would put Biyombo's length on Elton Brand, and that could mean problems for Brand. Iguodala will draw either Tyrus Thomas or Corey Maggette (they've flip-flopped in the starting lineup at the three). Meeks will have to check Reggie Williams, who suddenly forgot how to shoot when he got to CHA.
It's tough to find areas to focus on when you're playing a team as dismal as the Bobcats, so it's probably best to keep the focus squarely on the Sixers. Keep moving the ball on offense, keep limiting turnovers, stick to your defensive rotations and make sure you get a body on Biymbo when a shot goes up on that end. Both Diaw and BJ Mullens will pull the Sixers bigs out of the paint, be ready for it. Most importantly, get the win. With each of these games, the number of gimmes on the schedule shrinks. You don't want to be sitting on the fence between the #4 seed and the #5 seed and kicking yourself for dropping a game to a hapless squad in February because you took them too lightly.
No official word yet on Spencer Hawes' availability tonight, but I wouldn't say I'm optimistic. It'll probably be Allen and Brand up front with the Voose sticking in his more comfortable (according to Collins) role off the bench. I'd like to see Evan Turner get off the schneid tonight. His minutes have dipped since the Chicago game, hopefully tonight will be a good opportunity for Collins to get him 30+ minutes and let him spread his wings a little bit, regain some of that confidence.
The tip is at 7pm. Game thread will land at 5.