The Charlotte Bobcats are a much more competitive team in 2013 than 2012. Infact, the Bobcats closed 2012 out last year with a win on the road against the Chicago Bulls. Almost a month later, the Bobcats will head back to the Windy City hoping for a repeat story.
The Bobcats are a few days removed from defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-101, behind the late-game heroics of Gerald Henderson. The Bobcats have had a lot of shortcomings in the clutch again this season, and Saturday’s game was a welcome sight for those looking to see some promise in late game execution.
The last time the Bobcats played the Bulls, they did well in the fourth quarter and held off a Bulls run to get the victory. Kemba Walker led the Bobcats in that game with 18 of the 64 points from the Bobcats backcourt. Walker is once again on a hot streak, averaging just under 23 points per game and shooting 46% from the field and from three.
As I wrote in the recap for Saturday’s game, Walker has a much more confident and reassuring demeanor to his game this season. He’s playing eerily similar to his days at UCONN.
He’ll have a tough matchup on his hands, as he faces Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich was absent from the Bobcats win over the Bulls in December, and Nate Robinson got the start. Hinrich is a much more effective one-on-one defender than Robinson, which could make things more difficult for Walker this time around. Hinrich plays physical, is very pesky, and makes you work for every basket. Fans should keep an eye on that matchup.
We know what the Bobcats are going to get from their guards, but the frontcourt still remains a mystery. The Bobcats bigs did a great job rebounding the ball against Chicago in December, but still need to find ways to score.
The Bulls have one of the most balanced and talented frontcourts in the league with Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. The Bobcats really can’t afford another quiet scoring night up front. I’d like to see the bigs move around a lot more, to play off the guards and look for the ball off penetration and go up strong.
With the result of the game in December tonight should be interesting to see if the Bulls go at the Bobcats a lot harder than they did before. The Bobcats have done a good job of competing and bring more effort recently, so it looks like they’ll be prepared for whatever Chicago throws at them.