On Friday night the Charlotte Bobcats will square off against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the powerhouse Oklahoma City Thunder in the city soon to be referred to as “Buzz City.” This will be the tenth meeting all time for these two “young” teams (Bobcats entered the league in 2004, Thunder from the Seattle Supersonics in 2008).
In a match up that many NBA fans would quickly side with the Thunder as the overall favorite, don’t be surprised if Kemba Walker and Charlotte pull off the upset just like they almost did against the Miami Heat on December 1 (Heat won 99-98). So you know the argument, know you need to know the facts! Here are three keys to the Bobcats taking down the Thunder on Friday night.
1. Stay strong in the 4th
This key point right here will only matter if the Cats can keep up with the Thunder through four quarters. We know they can keep a close game with OKC, and judging from their previous one-point loss to the Heat I think they can stand the firepower of Kevin Durant‘s squad as well. Don’t be surprised if the Bobcats stay in this game without the chances of falling behind early, but what is one weakness we have learned Charlotte contains so far this season? Lacking play in the fourth quarter.
So if Kemba Walker and the soon to be Hornets won’t fall behind through the first three, don’t blow a game you could have a chance of winning in the fourth. I know the Charlotte locker room doesn’t want to suffer another one-point loss to a top NBA team!
2. Defense must show its value against the top notch OKC offense
The Thunder are currently the second highest scoring team in the NBA with an average of 106.3 points a game. So right off the bat you know Charlotte is going to have their top notch defense at full force come game time. What do the Bobcats actually do a better job of than the Thunder? Defense. The Cats currently rank third in the league right now in points allowed (93.6), and when that stat meets a top three scoring offense something must be done.
For Steve Clifford and Charlotte to have a chance at winning this one they must prove that their impressively solid defense is no fluke. They must prove that it is for real and make the high scoring Oklahoma City team uncomfortable when dealing with them while running plays and easy rotations on the offensive end. Charlotte must use the greatly improved defense to their aid; they can’t win a basketball game without defense!
3. Small forwards must surprise with limited depth
It’s something Bobcats fans fail to accept, but for the next 1-2 weeks the team will be without even one of their top two small forwards. With Jeff Taylor gone for the rest of the season and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returning sometime in January there are two players who need to surprise the NBA world in such a big statement game. Anthony Tolliver and Chris Douglas-Roberts may not sound or look like prime time players, but they are the only options the Bobcats have left. If the two can put in solid work and prove that they indeed can handle big minutes then we may be in for something special. Knowing that Tolliver is a pretty decent defender he might not need too much help on Durant, but I still wouldn’t bet on it. People will underrate these players big time, but Friday is their chance to thrive in the spotlight. It’s these two guy’s chance to prove they aren’t just some scrubs.
Tip off is at 7:00 Eastern time. A win would put the Bobcats back at .500 (15-15) and 5th in the Eastern Conference