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 upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent the Larry Brown-less Charlotte Bobcats.
We’re still reeling mentally from last night’s loss in Orlando and we can’t imagine the Sixers are doing much better. In addition to the psychological damage done by last night’s loss, the Sixers will also be dog-tired physically coming into tonight’s contest. The Charlotte game tonight is the second game in a back-to-back road set for the Sixers as well as the third game in four days for the 7-6. As a cruel bonus to the madness that is the NBA scheduling czars, two of those three games went into overtime.
In short, we don’t see the Sixers winning this one tonight. Yeah, we know the Sixers just beat the Bobcats three nights ago. And yeah we know you could argue that on paper the Sixers are a better team. However, the NBA grind we mentioned above sometimes just wears a team out and produces a let down game. Tonight has “let down game” written all over it for Philadunkia’s home team.
In addition to the “let down game” theory, the naked eye, the stats and the “experts” all say the ‘Cats are playing better ball under new head coach Paul Silas. They looked solid in their win at Chicago on Tuesday, so they also have a little momentum going for them. The tired Sixers on the other hand are 2-3 in their last five; are 3-5 this year in the second game of a back-to-back set and 1-3 when that second game is away from the WFC. Again we think the Sixers fall flat tonight (so take the Cats and give the 3 points), but we hope we’re wrong. We really do, because this team and its faithful are in desperate need of a pick-me-up.
For a little more insight into the Bobcats team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Brett Hainline from queencityhoops.com to answer two questions on the ‘Cats from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Charlotte squad from an insider’s perspective.
Philadunkia : We’re big Larry Brown fans here at Philadunkia, but we also realize that his coaching style can wear players out, his health isn’t the greatest and there were rumors that he and MJ weren’t always on the same page. So can you give us the inside scoop on what really led LB to resign from the Bobcats head coaching spot?
Brett Hainline @ Queen City Hoops.com : From what I’ve heard – it was a combination of things, though the primary one was the on-court results: The increasingly regular occurrence of the Bobcats getting blown out was a result of the team quitting on Larry Brown. They were tired of his constant negativity and the front office was tired of his roster complaints, when he had a hand in bringing in most of these guys. To further illustrate the fact that it was largely an effort thing that was causing the Bobcats struggles under LB is that the Bobcats defensive efficiency numbers have taken a big leap under Silas.
Philadunkia : What if any differences have you seen in the Cats under Paul Silas so far?
Brett Hainline @ Queen City Hoops.com : I mentioned it a bit above, but I’ll reiterate – the defense has really improved under Silas. Despite Silas claiming the team was going to get out and run more, the Bobcats have actually played a slightly slower pace under Silas than they did this season under LB. It’s worked though (when combined with a home heavy schedule to start Silas’ 2nd career in Charlotte). The other noticeable thing – happier players (though they are already bothering Silas with their on court complaining over fouls and the supposed lack of calls).
Two Points of analysis from Brett Hainline @ Queen City Hoops.com :
1) Tyrus Thomas missed the last game against the Sixers because of a very silly and dangerous elbow thrown at Emeka Okafor the previous time out. T-Time’s (his real nickname, according to the Bobcats) minutes are only up about 4.5 per game under Silas, to about 25 a night, but that’s a start – and he can be a defensive difference-maker as evidenced by his last second block of a Korver layup the other night in Chicago.
2) The Bobcats have actually played a slightly bigger lineup under Silas than they did under Larry Brown – Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas have both seen a slight decrease in the percentage of their court time spent at the 5 under Silas, with Kwame Brown beginning to see more minutes. Kwame’s presence in the middle has seemed to made a positive defensive impact and his confidence has improved lately as a result.