Boston at Charlotte
Time Warner Cable Arena
Offensive Efficiency (Hoopdata)
Boston: 107.1 points/100 possessions (6th in NBA)
Charlotte: 101.7 points/100 possessions (22nd)
Boston: 96.9 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Charlotte: 103.7 points allowed/100 possessions (15th)
Probable Charlotte starters: D.J. Augustin (PG), Stephen Jackson (SG), Gerald Wallace (SF), Boris Babacar Diaw-Riffiod (PF), Nazr Mohammad (C)
View from opposing bench: Queen City Hoops
Thumbnail: These teams have more history than you might remember, though you were reminded of some of it two days ago. It didn’t belong in Brian’s sublime catalog, but no review of Celtics buzzer-beaters can stand up without this one from the fall of 2007:
Plus, recall that last year the C’s and the Jordan Impulse Buys enjoyed a mini-rivalry over which team would emerge with the league’s best defense. Ultimately, by most measures that title went to the Bobcats (or Magic). But the Charlotte defense has slipped to the middle of the pack this year, along with their performance in just about every statistical category. This is somehow a boring team with a bunch of very exciting players.
The Celtics should win tonight’s game, even though Shaq is out tonight, and if the performance in Philadelphia is any indication he’ll be missed against this much bigger team. But we’ll be compensated by having all of our hearts warmed by Semih Erden after they game, like he did on Thursday night to Chris Forsberg:
“It’s very nice for me,” said Erden. “I tried my best, first on defense, then on offense. I helped my team and I’m very happy.”
“Ivan make basket,” Erden continued.
Like most of you, I’d happily see the C’s break their streak tonight if it means saving Shaq’s legs and beating Orlando on Christmas Day. But this team is mediocre enough that the C’s should be able to pull it out, whatever that means at this point.
WHAT THE BOBCATS DO WELL
Rebound. They’re third in the league in total rebound rate, and they do it without any players who are that great at rebounding. What they have is serious rebounding depth: Gerald Wallace and Dominic McGuire are probably the two best boarding SFs in the league. They also have crazy height available at the guard spots in Shaun Livingston and Stephen Jackson, and even though those guys are generally disinterested rebounders, Livingston could present a terrifying challenge to Nate. Anyway, rebound is the only thing the Cats do at an above-average rate, and they’ll continue that trend tonight with Shaq out.
WHAT THE BOBCATS DO POORLY
Maintain possession of the basketball. 16% of their possessions end in turnovers, first in the league. Desagna Diop has seen a hilarious 26% of his possessions result in a turnover. This is the only area in which the Bobcats are really terrible. If there were a “WHAT THE BOBCATS DO A LITTLE WORSE THAN MOST TEAMS” section we’d be here all day.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY
Stephen Jackson. The Bobcats are a fun experiment in positional flexibility. They have Boris Diaw, who was drafted as a point guard and seems not to have noticed that his position was changed five years ago. They have Dominic McGuire, a SF physically incapable of scoring but who accumulates boards better than half of the league’s centers. They have Gerald Wallace and his general freakiness. They have a giant point guard in Shaun Livingston who somehow doesn’t rebound. But mostly they have Jackson, a towering shooting guard who can defend every position, make plays, get to the basket, and shoot from anywhere but also doesn’t rebound despite his height. He can go off any night, so he can certainly go off against Ray Allen.
D.J. Augustin. He’s having a good season, and if Rondo’s still hobbled it promises to get better. Why do they call him D.J. when his name is Darryl Gerard?
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Boris Diaw. Now that Sheed has retired and Baron Davis’s decline is old news, this is as sad a story of squandered talent as you’ll find in the NBA right now. Remember how much fun Diaw was on those Seven Seconds or Less teams? He’d play three different positions on one possession. He’d drive through a double team like a guard, then instantly morph into a center at the basket and post up. He consistently avoided contact and generally played small, but that only further contributed to his being, stylistically, the league’s most unique player. If you think I’m exaggerating, then you’re going to hate this guy:
Today, Diaw has taken his enormous contract as an excuse to gain a crazy amount of weight and generally disappear on offense. Ty Thomas is playing circles around him in 16 fewer minutes per game. It’s sad, but we don’t have to worry about Boris Diaw anymore at age 28.
Kwame Brown. Speaking of “Seven Seconds or Less,” the book attributes Kwame Brown’s miserable career to Jordan calling him a (extremely inappropriate thing) all the time when they played together on the Wizards. I have no reason to believe he’s stopped calling him this thing now that he’s owner. Remember when the C’s almost signed Brown over Shaq? You’re right, probably better that we just choose to forget that.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE TONIGHT
Personally, not much from Rajon Rondo. His foot injury doesn’t seem like the kind that would respond well to increased use. I do want to see KG, Pierce, and Ray somehow outhustle matchups that are dramatically more athletic than they are. I want to see Baby muscle Tyrus Thomas into a funk, part of a confidence-boosting effort from the C’s bench against the weak Charlotte reserves (EDIT: Ty Thomas is in a suit tonight. Oops). I’d like to get a win at low cost in terms of minutes and injury aggravation. And that is what I think I will get.
C’s 95, Cats 88. Is there anyone left who likes Larry Brown?