Tipoff: 7:00 PM EST
Facing the Los Angeles Clippers has not always been a fun proposition for the Charlotte Bobcats. The last two games against the Clippers the Bobcats have managed just 85 and 84 points while giving up 112 and 106 to the Clippers. These have not been enjoyable games from a Bobcat point of view.
This time around the Clippers will be without all-world point guard Chris Paul, although the Clippers are 7-2 without their maestro and have only lost to San Antonio and Indiana. They are coming off a 112-103 dismantling of the Detroit Pistons on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and don't show much sign of slowing down.
The Bobcats are of course without their own point guard, Kemba Walker. But the loss of Walker is much more impactful right now for the Bobcats than the loss of Paul is to Los Angeles. Of course that's not to say Walker and Paul are on the same level, but the Clippers have a host of other players that can pick up the slack in Paul's absence, more so than the Bobcats.
No Paul means Darren Collison slides into the starting slot and more Jamal Crawford which means more fun for everyone. Crawford is not so much a microwave of instant offense as he is the food hydrator from Back to the Future Part II of instant offense. A lethal weapon off the bench, Crawford can shoulder the scoring load when needed. He's one of the league's most dangerous players when he gets on a roll, which doesn't take much.
Collison is a more than capable backup and was a starter himself not too long ago. A forgettable layover in Dallas last year sullied some of the positive outlook on him as an NBA go-to point man, but in a pinch he can still perform well enough to lead a team.
The frontcourt is where the Bobcats typically struggle with the Clippers, as do many teams. The athleticism of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is a nightmare matchup and one particularly tough for Charlotte.
As good as Al Jefferson has been this season and especially of late, athletic bigs can still give him problems particularly on the defensive end. They don't get more athletic than Jordan who has benefited from playing in new head coach Doc Rivers' system. He and Griffin volleyball rebounds and put back dunks with ferocious regularity. If you don't get a body on them you will pay. And the fast breaks aren't much better to deal with.
J.J. Redick has returned for the Clips and has played rather well, firing away from three-point land with tremendous accuracy. Redick is averaging almost 20 points a game over his last five games while connecting on slightly less than 40 percent of the time from three. The Bobcats will have to know where the shooting guard is at all times to avoid giving up wide open threes. He gives the Clippers a dangerous outside threat to balance what they have inside, and makes this team incredible tough to defend.
The Clippers put the pressure on opponents by sharing the ball incredibly well with the fifth highest assist ratio in the league. Being at home is a plus for the Bobcats, so there's that.
And to be truthful that needs to start being a bigger factor for the Bobcats if they hope to keep fighting for a playoff spot. Charlotte is just 10-12 at home this season, and winning home games is something a playoff team should do more often than not. Currently one game past the halfway point of the season, the Bobcats are clinging to the 8thseed in the East. Brooklyn, Charlotte, Detroit, Cleveland and New York are all within three games or less of each other and the Bobcats have little room to breathe.