Gametime: 7:00 p.m. EST
Following a big loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, the Bobcats are looking to rebound against the Denver Nuggets tonight. The Nuggets are far out of a playoff seed, and at .435, their winning percentage is even lower than the Bobcats', though they do have a tougher schedule in the Western Conference.
Before the Nuggets lost an overtime game to the Pelicans last night, they won their previous two games, against the Lakers and Mavericks, but before that, had lost eleven of twelve games, many of which were not close. The last month has been particularly tough on the Nuggets, who were looking to retain the playoff spot they earned last season. With season-ending injuries to Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee, and Nate Robinson, Denver's chances have worsened as the year went on. Injuries are a terrible, terrible thing.
Things to watch for in tonight's game include the Ty Lawson vs Kemba Walker matchup at point guard. Both are exceptionally quick players with shooting range, and it's fun to watch them go head-to-head. In the frontcourt, power forward Kenneth Faried is very physical in the post, and I wonder if head coach Brian Shaw is faced with a mismatch, as Faried's game is less suited for a stretch defensive role against Josh McRoberts, but would also have to give up a considerable amount of size against Al Jefferson.
Areas where the Nuggets thrive include free throw rate, where they rank sixth in the league and fifth in total free throw attempts, as their quick guards can drive the lane to easily draw fouls. They're also very successful on the offensive glass, ranking fifth in the league in total offensive rebounds, though this might have something to do with the high amount of shots they miss and the amount of shots they take per game. This is where I should mention that the Nuggets play at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA, a style that, to be brief, is pretty significantly different from how the Bobcats normally run.
Including tonight's skirmish, the Bobcats only have four games remaining against teams from the West, and it would be fairly important to win the first of those games against the weakest of those opponents. The Nuggets are no cupcake opponent, but they struggle in multiple areas, and the Bobcats could look to exploit those weaknesses. The Nuggets struggle with shot selection, fail to create turnovers on the defensive end, and their physical playing style sends opponents to the free throw line far too often. Each of these flaws shows an area where the Bobcats could easily come away with an advantage, and I'm sure coach Steve Clifford is pointing these out to his team. The Nuggets still have a lot of talent, so I doubt the Bobcats will dominate, but I think they would welcome a sub-.500 opponent to Time Warner Cable Arena.