Game Preview: Who Wants a Bobcat Pelt?

Matchup: Bobcats(15-23) @ Hornets(26-12)
Off Efficiency: Bobcats 100.3(22nd), Hornets 105.4(11th)
Def Efficiency: Bobcats 104.6(22nd), Hornets 99.9(4th)
Enemy Blogger: Queen City Hoops, Bobcat Bonfire

The Bobcats arrive in New Orleans having beaten Denver and Orlando in their last two games, as well as beating Boston and New Jersey the week before.  Over their last ten, they seem to be finally figuring some things out and have managed to win half their games.  That said, they are an abysmal road team, and have managed to win only 2 of their 14 games away from Charlotte.  Ouch.

The Hornets have won their last three and have whipped out their Defibrillator, applying it to their bench for dazzling effects.  Now, I just hope Byron inserted a pacemaker too.

The Bobcats have some nagging injuries to Jeff McInnis and Raymond Felton, but both should play.  The Hornets have been crippled by an injury to Adam Haluska, accompanied by much wailings and gnashings of teeth. I guess we'll have to start Morris Peterson again.

Positional Analysis
PG: Jeff McInnis vs. Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
The Bobcats apparently felt that one small guard who can't shoot in the form of Felton wasn't enough, so they brought in old, poor-shooting Jeff McInnis to start at the point, and pushed Felton to the wing.  He's paid dividends sucked too, averaging 4 points and 4 assists in 24 minutes and shooting 39% from the field, 13% from three.  It was close, but I'll give Paul the edge here.

SG: Raymond Felton vs. Morris Peterson
Advantage: Even
Felton is a solid, if unspectacular point guard.  He's fast, a good penetrator and has a reasonable turnover rate, but he's been pushed to shooting guard now, which unsurprisingly requires someone who can shoot.  Felton can't.(40% FG, 28% 3pt)  Morris Peterson has been cold recently, but he's big and a decent defender.  Despite his shooting woes, he's still a better shooter than Felton.  They each have strengths – and end up pretty evenly matched.

SF: Jason Richardson vs. Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Bobcats
I think this advantage is a lot smaller than the Bobcats had hoped for when they traded for Jason this offseason.  Richardson may be a better spot up shooter from three than Peja, but he also tries to do too much and has never overcome his shaky dribbling ability.  He's mistake prone, though still fairly quick.  Peja's jumpshot can flow from anywhere on the floor, particularly on post-up fade aways.(In fact, anyone having flashbacks of Mashburn and his fade-away shots?)  Jason's speed gives him a little advantage here, but it's not much.

PF: Gerald Wallace vs. The Fluffinator
Advantage: Hornets
Gerald is the Bobcats best player, but he's playing out of position as a power forward.  Offensively, that may be smart because Wallace is a lot faster than most Power Forwards, including David West and will be able to take advantage by scoring a lot.  But despite his prowess as a defender, he's never going to be able to take West one on one.  West is too strong, and has too many offensive moves.  Should be a scoring fest between the two, but West is more likely to be able to slow Wallace than Wallace slow him.

C: Emeka Okafor vs. Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
Emeka is an Enigma to me.  He should be more effective as a scorer than this, but either doesn't get the ball enough, or doesn't want the ball enough.  Tyson wants the ball.  A lot.  Tyson get ball.  Tyson dunk ball.  Tyson strut and flex!  Crowd cheer.

Advantage: Who the hell knows?
Which Hornets bench will show up?  The hard-defending, hot-shooting bunch with three offensive options in Ely, Pargo and Jackson from the last few games?  Or the hard-defending, can't hit a shot to save their freaking lives from December?  I'm not sure.  Charlotte has a good backup big in Nazr Mohammed, a good shooter in Matt Carroll, and a solid energy rookie in Jared Dudley.  Not much else here.

Hornets win 102-95.  One day, one of these predictions will be close.  Of course, that's a prediction too, and my past predictions haven't fared so well.

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