This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” – Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series, which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews key upcoming 76ers games – features tonight’s opponent, the Charlotte Bobcats, who despite being 3-7 in their last 10 contests, currently sit 1-game ahead of the 76ers in the race for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.
After the jump, I’ll look at Fo’ key items for tonight’s game. Additionally, we’ll get a little more insight into this Charlotte team the Sixers face tonight from our colleague Spencer Percy at queencityhoops.com, as Spencer will answer Fo’ questions on his Bobcats squad from us here at Philadunkia.
Here are Fo’ key items I will be watching for tonight from the Sixers end…
1) When Opposites Collide: Outside of boasting new head coaches and pathetic records, the 76ers and Bobcats do not have a lot in common. Under Steve Clifford the Cats have become one of the best defensive teams in the Association (91 ppg. – 2nd in NBA). To be honest, the Cats defensive game plan and effort at that end of the floor is a thing of beauty to watch. On the other hand, defense is an afterthought for the 7-6. However, with Brett Brown at the helm, the Sixers offense has gone up temp and become one of the highest scoring and most efficient attacks on the League. The team/style that is able to put their stamp on the game will win this one tonight. I’m betting on the team that plays defense.
2) Wroten Watch: TWroe has struggled in his last two runs — 7 points total on 3-8 shooting. With MCW sitting this one out, I am looking for Wroten to be more assertive as a starter and get his game back on track. The last time Wroten started a game was vs. Dallas on 11/18. In that contest he put up 19 points and had 5 thefts.
3) Go at Jeff Taylor: The athletic swingman is enjoying a solid season for the Bobcats, but he’ll be filling in for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who fractured his left hand and is out 4-6 weeks. MKG has become one of the most underrated perimeter defenders in the League and Taylor is…well…not. So, I’d like to see the Sixers go right at Taylor and I would prefer it if the game plan was to get Taylor switched onto Thad through pick and rolls and then let #21 go to work.
4) Sixers Defense Makes a Stand: Charlotte’s offensive woes continued in Dallas on Tuesday night as it was held to fewer than 90 points for the 9th time. Additionally, they were held to 15 points in the fourth quarter by the Mavs. The Cats are last in the NBA in scoring average (88.8), field-goal percentage (40.9) and 3-point shooting (29.4), and have reached 100 points once. Tonight, I’m looking for the Sixers roster to show some pride, buckle down defensively, hold the Cats below 95 points and grab a win. I know that doesn’t go along with my pro-tanking philosophy very well, but it could be a long time before the Sixers have a legit chance to hold a team under 100 again, so I’d like to see it happen in this game.
Q&A with Spencer Percy at queencityhoops.com:
Philadunkia: The Bobcats are 8-12 and clinging to the 8-spot in the awful Eastern Conf. Many people describe that situation as the NBA’s version of hell. So if you’re in charge of the Charlotte franchise do you push the tank button or do you make moves to improve the team for this year?
Spencer Percy at queencityhoops.com: I push the tank button. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if the Bobcats are sold on that model. Jordan wants to win now and that’s exactly why he overspent to go get Al Jefferson in the off-season. The injury of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will certainly hurt this team defensively and could basket a slew of losses in the next 4-6 weeks, but there’s really no sign of Charlotte not making a push for the post-season.
Ultimately, the #1 reason that I’d go ahead and tank lies solely in the fact that if the Bobcats end up with pick #11 or worse then it goes to Chicago (Tyrus Thomas trade). Charlotte is now assured Portland’s lottery protected pick with the Blazers hot start, but two lotto selections would be excellent.
Philadunkia: We know head coach Steve Clifford is a defensive minded guy and that the Bobcats are only averaging 88 ppg. So what style of play can we expect to see from the Bobcats in this game?
Spencer Percy at queencityhoops.com: What you just said. Expect to see a team that sells out on the defensive end. Charlotte’s defense is as well connected as any in the league currently – wing defenders are getting into gaps to stop dribble-penetration + recovering to shooters as well as I ever remember witnessing from a Bobcats team. I guess that’s not saying a ton, though.
Philadunkia: By my count Kemba Walker has played for 3 different coaches with 3 very different philosophies. But none of that seems to matter to him as he simply goes out and stuffs the stat sheet. Yet, “experts” and scouts seem divided on Walker — they either love him or hate him. Where do you stand on Walker?
Spencer Percy at queencityhoops.com: Kemba in an undersized, score first guard. He’s a SG by trade, playing PG because he’s ball dominant and undersized. His shooting numbers (40% FG for his career; 31.4% 3FG) are never going to jump off the page at you because of the percentages – this makes him an inefficient player by definition. He’s an excellent rebounder for his size + is extremely dynamic in the open floor. Chew on this for a moment – Kemba has never missed a game in his NBA career.
Philadunkia: MKG is now out for 4-6 weeks. From the outside it seems like he was having another so-so season. How much will he be missed?
Spencer Percy at queencityhoops.com: He’ll be missed in the sense of how good of a defender he is. There’s no question that MKG is flawed on the offensive end and likely always will be. That being said, he guards the best wing on the opposition on a night-to-night basis and never is short on the energy meter. Jeff Taylor will now fill in for MKG, which likely means a regression for this team defensively – the side of the floor they’ve hung their hat on this season.
Thanks to Spencer for his time and answers.
You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.