The Bobcats come into tonight's game against the Grizzlies having won three games in a row, jumping to the seven seed ahead of the Hawks and the Pistons. Winning the first three games out of the break is huge considering the 5-8 seeds in the East are now just a game apart. This makes the loss against the Nets before the break even more regrettable, especially since tonight is where the schedule toughens up with coming games against the Heat, Spurs, Thunder and Pacers. I mean, who designed this schedule and thought that was an acceptable four game stretch for any team? What's even stranger is the six days they'll have off after tonight before that treacherous run.
The upcoming games make tonight all the more important since the Bobcats will need to grab as much confidence as they can on the second night of a back-to-back. The good news is that the Grizzlies are also playing their second in as many nights, too.
Tonight's premier matchup will undoubtedly be between Bobcats center Al Jefferson and Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. These two players are two of the NBA's best big men and should be exciting to watch. However, though Jefferson has been playing as well as he ever has, Gasol is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. May I dust off my old "unstoppable force meets the immovable object" cliche? I really should be able to think of something better, but it's just so fitting.
If the Bobcats are able to expend the same measure of focus that they were on Tuesday night when they first came out of the break, they have the potential to steal the tough home win. Much like that victory on Tuesday, it will require a total team effort, not just a 30-15 Jefferson game. It may be easy to look past this game to the big games on the horizon (especially with a bunch of built up confidence), but tonight's game is important for the rest of the season, not just the beginning of the month.