Charlotte Bobcats at Portland Trail Blazers game preview

USA TODAY Sports Images

Gametime: 10 p.m. Need a relaxing reprieve from midterm studies? Well, you might want to look elsewhere!

Though I'm not sure many Bobcats fans even still have their eyes intact after this past week, are you ready for some more Bobcats basketball?

Yeah, that's the spirit!

We start off this week as the Bobcats finish a back-to-back on the road in Portland tonight, which is just effing terrific. Portland once had some minor playoff hopes but those were all but silenced for the time being with a seven-game losing streak. Still, they've won two of their three games since the skid and still have an abundance of young talent.

LaMarcus Aldridge is their main franchise player, with a sweet shot and nice touch in the paint. He's not an elite rebounder but is solid enough. Damian Lillard, the rookie guard sensation, is also playing really well. Lillard is a great scorer and shooter with a sweet IQ for the game and room to improve even still, which should be encouraging for Portland fans. Wes Matthews has bounced back from his previous season to improve his shooting percentages, especially at the rim. Notably, a huge change in that regard is that 60.5 percent of his shots at that location are assisted, as opposed to 48.9 percent last year. Better ball movement is clearly helping his offensive versatility.

Nicolas Batum is also having a really intriguing season. His shooting percentages have regressed back to career averages after last season's contract year, but it's not significantly enough to write home about. What interests me is that it seems his passing has become more of a focal point for him than ever before in his career. His AST% had never been higher than 8.1 percent in a season prior to this year, yet it sits at an impressive 20.4 percent. Of course, his turnover percentage has risen as well, but his increase in assist percentage has well outpaced the rise in turnover percentage. It'll be interesting to see how Portland utilizes him in their offense. Perhaps you recall that video on HORNS? How teams run offense out of the high post? Perhaps they've been sparking offensive ball movement inside and out with him around the elbow. I haven't seen many of their games, especially lately, but that'll be something to watch.

Be sure to check out Portland's blog too, if such a thing interests you, at Blazer's Edge.

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