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Gameday Preview: Bobcats @ Celtics

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Pump Up Music: Iron Maiden -- "Run to the Hills"

The Big Picture: The Celtics are coming off a win over the Cavaliers, in Cleveland, that wasn't quite as close as it looks in the box score. That could be scary news for the rest of the league over the long haul, or it could be welcome news that the Cavs aren't as improved with Shaquille O'Neal, Anthony Parker, and a still-improving LeBron James as a lot of us thought.

Every game the Bobcats win over teams that are clearly better than they are is a step closer to the playoffs. Do it enough, and we can start asking questions about whether they actually do deserve to escape lottery purgatory and whether they're showing real improvement from one season to the next.

Key to Victory: For the Bobcats, it makes all the sense in the world to run on Boston, even when they get back on D. The Celtics' core, save Rondo, is on the older side and forcing the game's tempo could do a number on their knees and lungs, even if, strategically, it's not really something they've had trouble dealing with in the past.

The Cats can't fall into the trap of shooting threes, because that's exactly what Boston wants. They'll play their floating zone, totally commit to clogging the paint, and semi-contest threes on the theory that semi-contested threes are low-percentage enough to favor the defense. Charlotte's not good enough on threes in the first place to really justify a lot of long distance shooting, but they are just good enough to think they can make it work.

Detail That Might Interest .08% of Fans: Via Third Quarter Collapse's Twitter, there was a remarkable similarity between Rasheed Wallace and Ryan Anderson last season. Whether 'Sheed's strong new 'fro will affect his stats is to be determined.