The Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves are both losers of three straight. Saturday one team will snap their mini-losing streak and hope to rack up a few wins heading into the end of January.
In 2013, the Bobcats effort and intensity has been a lot more visible. The team has played some close games, but has failed to execute most of the time down the stretch.
Kemba Walker has been on a hot five-game stretch for the Bobcats, averaging just under 20 points, while shooting 49% from the field and 46% from three. Walker leads the way for a Bobcats team who continues to lead the NBA in backcourt scoring with 51.8 per game.
Minnesota’s guard play has shown some promise at times this season with the addition of Alexey Shved and contributions of Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea. But with Ricky Rubio still getting his in-game rhythm back after returning from a knee injury, the Timberwolves backcourt isn’t a huge threat to score the ball.
Shved might not play in today’s game after sitting out yesterday against the Wizards with an ankle injury.
Normally Minnesota’s starting frontcourt of Kevin Love and most-improved player candidate Nikola Pekovic is the teams bread and butter. Both players are double double machines and bruise the other teams frontcourts into oblivion.
Having Love and Pekovic in the lineup would have been a big problem for the Bobcats mediocre big men. The Bobcats are dead last in frontcourt scoring and 29th in opponents frontcourt scoring. It’s been the team’s biggest problem all year, and has just become a liability on the floor.
Love and Pekovic though are out with injuries. Pekovic has missed the last four games with a thigh contusion, while Love is out indefinitely after re-injuring his right hand. The Timberwolves will likely start Derrick Williams and Greg Stiemsma in their place. Williams, a former #2 overall pick, has struggled with consistency and finding a role with Minnesota this season, but could be in for a big game against the Bobcats big men.
Minnesota’s injuries are a big part of why they have dropped eight of their last nine. When healthy, Minnesota is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA. Head Coach Rick Adelman is always known for putting out teams who play a great brand of basketball, share the rock, and aim for balanced production. It’s been tough to do that with injuries to their three best players.
The Wolves have also struggled on the road the entire season, with just a 6-16 record. It’d be a concern for the Timberwolves entering this game, if Charlotte didn’t have a league worst 5-18 record at home.
Overall there doesn’t seem to be a clear advantage for either team heading into tonight, which should mean a pretty close game. If it is, we’re hoping to see some actual progress out of the Bobcats late-game executing and decision making.