Who: Charlotte Bobcats (30-34) vs. Washington Wizards (33-30)
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington
PG Kemba Walker PG John Wall
SG Chris Douglas-Roberts SG Bradley Beal
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SF Trevor Ariza
PF Josh McRoberts PF Trevor Booker
C Al Jefferson C Marcin Gortat
Key Match Up: Kemba Walker vs. John Wall
After a short stint back home the Bobcats are back on the road against the Washington Wizards.
The Bobcats have played well since the end of the All-Star break, going 7-4 since then and only losing three of those games to the NBA’s elite (Spurs, Heat and Thunder). Thanks to that run, the Bobcats have solidly entrenched themselves in the eastern playoff race, currently as the 7th seed, and have a good opportunity to catch the surging 6th seeded Brooklyn Nets and the 5th seeded Wizards. The Bobcats are only 3 and 3 1/2 games back of the Nets and Wizards, but will need to take advantage of these last 18 games of the season with only two more games against the Nets and one more game against the Wizards left.
The Bobcats last game against the Wizards resulted in a 97-83 loss at home. That was an ugly game for the Bobcats and big man Al Jefferson; who scored only 6 points. But that early January game featured a much different Bobcats team that was still trying to find an offensive identity to compliment its top ranked defense. Now, the Bobcats have much better offensive chemistry with Jefferson acting as the focal point and supplementing the Cats surprising perimeter game of Kemba Walker, Josh McRoberts and Anthony Tolliver. The Bobcats also have a pretty good new shooter in Gary Neal coming of the bench to really add some scoring punch to that second unit.
The only thing that may act against the Bobcats this time around is the loss of Gerald Henderson due to a calf injury. Henderson put on a show against the Wizards in their previous matchup, scoring 27 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. The Bobcats will definitely miss Henderson’s offensive production, but the bigger questions is if Chris Douglas-Roberts and Gary Neal can slow down Bradley Beal. Its not like Gerald Henderson did much against Beal the last time around; Beal scored 21 points on 10-18 shots, but Henderson is a better defender and a tougher match up on the perimeter than either Douglas-Roberts or Neal.
The match up to watch tonight will feature two of the easts best young point guards in Walker and John Wall. Walker has been up and down since coming back from a recent ankle injury, but played well on Monday night against the Denver Nuggets, putting up 24 points with 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Wall has had a break out season of sorts and is putting up 18.0 points and 11 assists per game in his last ten.
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