The 34-26 Brooklyn Nets are in Charlotte tonight, taking on a team that has the dubious honor of being the worst team in the NBA for two years running. After last year's 7-59 record in the lockout-shortened season, the Bobcats have improved substantially, increasing their record all the way to 13-47. That's almost double the wins in less time!
The Nets have been in a bit of a slide recently, losing two embarrassing games over the weekend to the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks, and the Bobcats seem like the type of medicine an ill team would like to ingest. But, and don't stop me if you've heard this cliche before because you totally have, that's why they play the games.
Joining me to help figure out what's going on in Charlotte -- and why tonight's game might be a tad closer than we expect -- is Spencer Percy from ESPN TrueHoop Charlotte Bobcats blog Queen City Hoops. Earlier today, I helped QCH with their preview of the game, so if you'd like to see my thoughts on tonight's matchup, go check it out by clicking on these here words.
Also: don't forget to play The BK Game Streak (above). Onward!
Spencer Percy on the Charlotte Bobcats
Devin: The Bobcats are bad, in so many ways. Do you have hope that a) they have a chance tonight, and b) that they're on the right track, and if so, why?
Spencer: I do believe that tonight's game will be competitive. The Bobcats are coming off a 4-game road trip that they lost every game by an average of 26.25 PPG. So, they're due for a competitive performance and the team's effort was much better in their last game against Portland. This team's effort comes and goes. Part of that is due to being so young and the other part comes from the perpetual loosing, but I have hope that this franchise is moving in the right direction. No team that is this young is going to win much, but GM Rich Cho has been able to turn players like Corey Maggette into first round draft picks. Coach Dunlap told the front office that it would likely take him 3-5 years to turn this around, and I think that is the likely timetable to start seeing results.
Devin: The last time these two teams played, Brook Lopez lit them up for 26-11-3 blocks in 27 minutes. Last year, Deron Williams dropped the most nonchalant 57 points I've ever seen in a basketball game. What can the Bobcats do to limit their effectiveness?
Spencer: Dunlap believes in packing the paint defensively and keeping the ball out of the post. That strategy should apply to Lopez again tonight, but doesn't mean Charlotte will limit his effectiveness. Deron, on the other hand, has more of a chance to be successful against the smaller Kemba Walker. If Deron is able to take advantage of Kemba early and often, don't be surprised to see Jeff Taylor guard Deron some.
Devin: What's Mike Dunlap's coaching style & system like, and how are the players responding to him?
Spencer: Dunlap is more of a teacher than a player's coach that you typically see in the NBA, in my opinion. I believe he's the right style of coach for a culture of basketball that is extremely young and used to losing. Seems as if Dunlap is in Charlotte to teach these young guys how to approach the game on a day-to-day basis; teaching maximum effort every single day can be difficult in a losing culture. How long Dunlap will be in Charlotte will depend on how quickly he's able to develop these young players and start flipping that process into some wins. No team in this league is going to win without elite talent, which doesn't exist in Charlotte currently, but Dunlap is conveying the correct mindset/approach to young guys now.