Bobcats have hit the Bigtime and are going up against last year’s Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic.
If you missed part one of our preview, check it out here.
ASChin: One more thing that I wanted to touch on before we get to the wings and guards: We’re dealing with the League’s second best offense (behind Phoenix) going up against the League’s best defense (points allowed). If defense does indeed win championships, the Bobcats might be able to pull an upset in this series.
On to spots 1-3…
Dr. E: Out on the wings, we’ll have Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Stephen Graham and Larry Hughes matching up against Matt Barnes, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and JJ Redick. Barnes is a solid player who brings some much-needed toughness to the otherwise soft Magic. But he’s not going to intimidate Gerald Wallace.
Wallace broke through this season as the Bobcats first All-Star, but is still not appreciated much beyond hardcore NBA fans. A playoff series against the Magic would be the perfect opportunity for Wallace to insert himself into mainstream basketball consciousness. Obviously, the Cats need Gerald to play well in order to make the series interesting.
ASChin: Crash is great and we all love him but I’m really hoping that the big stage doesn’t intimidate him like it did during All-Star weekend. I’m tempering my expectations until I see Wallace handle the higher stakes of the postseason. Fortunately, Wallace’s ability to settle into BIONIC ROLE PLAYER mode when his shot’s not falling will at least allow him to pull down a dozen boards and alter a few shots until he can ignore the butterflies. On talent alone the Bobcats win this matchup but if you’re measuring experience, then the Magic’s combo of Barnes and Pietrus trumps here.
Dr. E: I like Pietrus a lot. On the Magic, he’s a bit redundant; another soft wing who loves the three-pointer (which is why the tougher Barnes starts). I’d love to see what Pietrus could do on another team where he’s not just encouraged to stand 25 feet away from the basket and launch threes.
ASChin: The shooting guard matchup should be fun. You have Vince Carter, famously maligned for his Playoff dissappearances going up against Mr. Makes Love To Pressure himself, Stephen Jackson.
Carter’s Playoff numbers don’t look so bad at first glance it’s only when you factor in his 42% FG percentage and some of his late game fades that you realize why he’s earned the reputation. Jackson’s Playoff averages are actually much worse than Carter’s (39% in 54 games) yet JAX has two major notches on his postseason belt: Winning a Championship with the Spurs in 2003 as a starter and then leading the 8th seeded Warriors past the top seeded Mavs in 2007.
I see these two guys negating each other during the series. With Vince getting most of his points early in the game and JAX contributing a little more towards the end. The real battle might be with the backups as sharpshooter JJ Reddick has come on in the second half of the season. If he can provide a much more consistent bench scoring threat than Bobcats new addition Larry Hughes, the ‘Cats might be in some trouble
Dr. E: In addition to getting Howard into foul trouble and Gerald Wallace being Gerald Wallace, one of the other breaks that the Bobcats need to make the series interesting is for Vince Carter to do what Vince Carter does in the playoffs: underwhelm and shrink. Bill Simmons mentioned this in his NBA regular season wrapup/playoff preview column, and it bears repeating: last year, down the stretch, the Magic put the ball into Turkoglu’s hands to make a play and he was great at it. Will Vince, when the pressure’s on, be able to deliver like Hedo did in that role?
I can’t wait until Redick enters game 3 in Charlotte for the first time. By the way, why do we say that someone was “booed lustily”? It doesn’t make much sense. I can understand staring lustily, like Sean May does at crab bread, but booing lustily? Strange adverb choice. Whatever the case, Redick will be booed lustily.
ASChin: And the sad part is is that JJ is a much better pro than 2006 #3 pick Adam Morrison will ever be. Ugh.
Dr. E: And at the point, we have Jameer Nelson vs Raymond Felton. I have to admit, I was stunned to look at Jameer’s numbers this season and see how far he’d fallen off. His FG% and 3PT% are way down, as is his scoring average, and he’s only playing 28 minutes a game. I know Jason Williams has been a pleasant surprise at backup PG for the Magic, but jeez. What happened? Anyways, the diminutive-but-not-super-quick Nelson is a good matchup for Raymond Felton.
Felton is easily having his best year as a pro — a contract year too, how nice. Now, the sharps know that Raymond’s improved stats/PER are mostly due to the fact that Stephen Jackson is now around to take all of the tough shots. Raymond has been able to be much more selective in the shots he attempts, and his FG% has accordingly improved significantly. But I still worry that he’s already made himself a lot of money this year — more money than the Bobcats might be able to pay. A strong showing in the playoffs could give a team like New York or Miami googly eyes for Raymond. I hope Raymond’s not thinking too much about that, but he’s human, so…
ASChin: Hey, now. I thought this was a Playoff Preview not a 2010 Free Agency Breakdown. Felton has proven himself to be a solid starter in the League and I imagine that he’ll do well in this series. He’s played in big games in college (winning a championship with UNC) and (at least according to 82games.com) he’s been the Bobcats best offensive player in the clutch. He’s bigger and stronger than both Jameer and White Chocolate and still has the speed to beat anybody down the court. If Ray can keep his shooting percentage up, turnovers down and play his usual solid D, I could see him being the series’ most valuable player in a potential upset.
As for DJ Augustin, I almost don’t want to write anything about him. He had a terrible sophomore season until finally coming around in April. I hope he’s figured it out because the Bobcats will need all the scoring (especially outside shooting) they can get.