For tonight's game against the Bobcats, I talked to Brett of Queen City Hoops. Tonight we'll be live for a pre-game and postgame show and we'l be live blogging throughout the game right here at ProjectSpurs.com
1. What was your first reaction when you heard the Bobcats traded for Stephen Jackson and has that changed any after getting to see him play in a few games for the Bobcats?
My first reaction was "Aww, really?" I was not pleased - Stephen had become a headache for Golden State (just like he had in Indiana) and his was going to be making more money than he probably should once his extension kicks in next season. I thought why did the Bobcats bring in a guy who will be making $9 million when he is 35 and he is not an All-Star caliber player.
I will say that he has helped the Bobcats more than I anticipated - he works well for them, because he is like Boris Diaw in that he provides a player who looks to create at a position that is not known for it - and with a team of players who are not great at creating for themselves, it helps having more players who can create opportunities for you. Jackson also provides continued strong defense at the shooting guard position for the Bobcats, so they have been able to continue to post some of the best defensive numbers in the league. I still have reservations about the last year or 2 of the deal, but in the short term, Jackson has provided an upgrade.
2. The Bobcats are coming into tonight's game off an impressive win over the Nuggets, but they also gave the Nets their first win of the season. Which Bobcats will the Spurs see tonight?
I wish I knew - the Bobcats have also knocked off the Cavaliers already this season, plus a blowout of the Hawks to their credit, yet stand at just 9 and 11 for the year. I can say with a high degree of confidence that you will see the Bobcats play a strong defensive game, as they have surrendered an offensive efficiency of greater than 110 to their opponents just once this season, while holding exactly half of their opponents below 100.
3. Gerald Wallace has had a great season so far. Do you think he has a chance to be the first All-Star from the Bobcats?
If the Bobcats can stay in playoff contention, through the All-Star break...nope, still not going to happen. With LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Rashard Lewis, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, and Josh Smith in front of him, I just don't see Crash making it. While he may be near the league lead in rebounds, he is still pretty far down the list points-wise, and we all know that is what catches people's eyes and attention.
4. Speaking of Wallace, what will the Spurs have to do, short of throwing the kitchen sink at him, to limit Wallace?
When Gerald is having strong offensive showings, he is aggressive, not settling for jumpers and always looking to attack. Unfortunately, that can be exploited, in that he can be reckless in his drives and either force shots that are not there once help arrives or commit offensive fouls. In the Bobcats last game, a help defender exploited Gerald's tendency to drive left and then spin back right once he reaches the paint - the defender was camped, waiting for Gerald to reverse field - and bang, offensive foul, bad possession for the Cats. Gerald is good at getting a step on his man - provide help with other players and he is not great at finding the open man once he decides he is shooting.
5. What is the key matchup and what is your prediction?
Hmm - tough to pick from the Spurs big three - but I am going to go with Tony Parker and Raymond Felton. Quick guards can give the Bobcats fits - just see what Rajon Rondo, Will Bynum and Nate Robinson have done to them in the past. Raymond is a good defender, but Tony is a tough cover for just about everyone. If Ray can't contain, then the Bobcats have to provide help and start giving open looks to Manu, Richard Jefferson, and even Antonio McDyess who can knock down open looks.
Offensively, Ray just has to continue his strong play by only taking good shots - not forcing things and taking impossible shots in the lane. He sometimes over-penetrates and then leaves his feet with no one to pass to and a big man between himself and the basket, and he struggles to finish in those situations. The last several games, though, he has limited those possessions and has a done strong job of protecting the ball and letting the offense flow through all the facilitators on the court, rather than over dribbling.
Prediction: Spurs 86 - Cats 80