By Kevin Sawyer
Bobcats: 7-16 (6-8 home)
Margin: -4.1 ppg (-5.4 home)
Last 10: 3-7 (margin -3.9)
Pistons: 12-9 (6-5 away)
Margin: -0.6 ppg (-1.6 away)
Last 10: 4-6 (margin -4.5)
Yet another game against a lousy, shorthanded team. Charlotte wasn’t very good BEFORE they made the puzzling decision to send their best player packing in exchange for Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary. A tolerably good defensive squad, the Cats just haven’t been able to find a way to put the ball in the hoop.
On the bright side, the Cats get Gerald Wallace back. Wallace took three games off for personal reasons after going an impressive 1-13 from the field in the prior two games. A factor on both ends of the floor, Wallace has never been able to put together a complete season that reflects his abilities. They’ll also be able to plug Diaw in at the four, as the trade eliminates some redundancy at the guard and wing positions. This trade certainly expresses confidence in the Felton-Augustin backcourt.
With players like Bell, Wallace and Emeka Okafor, the Bobcats will be tough to score against, though Bell’s reputation as a defensive stopper is a bit overblown. The once promising Sean May is now a testament to the power of overeating. He’ll ride the bench, where he’ll have plenty of time to visit with former Piston Nazr Mohammed (maybe Nazr can give him some tips on fasting).
The Pistons had trouble dialing it up for this sort of game last year. Not sure the opportunity to show up Nazr Mohammed is going to get this team geeked up.
Keys for Detroit:
Watch the post: Diaw is a good passer, and neither Augustin nor Felton are pure points. This team hasn’t been together long enough to truly take advantage of the new asset, but coach Curry should have his team ready should the offense go through the post and the wings.
Stay in front of your man: The Bobcats aren’t a good perimeter team, preferring to attack the basket and get fouls. If the Bobcats guards caught any of Danny Granger last night, they’re licking their chops. The help defense should be prepared.
Slow down on offense: With a rookie point guard and a set of new faces on offense, the Bobcats aren’t going to beat you in the half court. Without Sean May, they’ll be looking to run. Taking care of the ball is crucial, and the Pistons should use plenty of clock on each possession.
Question of the game:
What lineups are we going to see today? As the small ball era continues, Curry might pull the plug if we are taken apart on the glass. Or, at least he should consider doing so.