Scouting Report: Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats, like the Orlando team Atlanta just played, are off to a surprisingly good start at 3-3. What’s even more impressive is that they’ve been able to win three games without Al Jefferson, their big free agent acquisition, who has been sidelined for the past five games with an ankle injury.
Jefferson hurt his ankle in the preseason and has played just one game since. He’s listed as questionable for tonight’s game against the Hawks, so we should know more before game time, but he did practice Sunday, so the Hawks should be prepared for him to play. If he does return, it’ll be a challenge for Al Horford, who gives up size and strength to the big man inside. However, Al should be able to use his quickness and versatility in the transition game, and if his jump shot is working like it did against Orlando, it’ll pull Jefferson away from the rim, which should open up some driving lanes.
When healthy, Jefferson and point guard Kemba Walker provide a very potent inside-out game. Walker leads the team in scoring and assists, and all the offense has been running through him so far. It has taken him a lot of shots to get to his team-leading 17.3 PPG, but he’s still dangerous. Jeff Teague’s challenge tonight will be to kep Walker in front of him and turn him into a jump shooter. He’s much more dangerous off the bounce.
So far, Charlotte’s best shooter as been Walker’s backcourt mate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He’s doing all of his damage from inside the three-point line, so his ability to move, cut and drive is what the Hawks need to watch for. The team defense was very good against Orlando, so hopefully that carries over on the road, where Atlanta has allowed at least 100 points in all four games away from Philips Arena.
Offensively, the Bobcats have started slow, ranking in the bottom 10 in the league in scoring, shooting percentage and assists. However, they’re seventh in points allowed, so Atlanta has a tough challenge ahead of them tonight if they want to keep their 100+ points streak alive. Do keep in mind that those Bobcats stats are without Jefferson, who likely returns tonight.
One other note: Bobcats coach Steve Clifford is expected to coach tonight after having heart surgery over the weekend. Great to see him back and feeling better so quickly.
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