Pump Up Music: Coolio -- "Fantastic Voyage"
The Big Picture: Gerald Wallace returns! Let us all rejoice! Of course, this road back-to-back at the Atlanta Hawks and then at the Miami Heat is a killer, especially given the Bobcats' issues on the road this year. However, with Gerald back in the fold, assuming he's fully recovered, we're looking at a huge defensive and offensive upgrade over our other options. More importantly, Stephen Jackson will spend more time matched up against the nominal shooting guards of the league, which tends to be an advantage because he's so much taller than they are, yet quick enough to guard them. Apparently, Joe Johnson is still questionable, and may be a gametime decision.
Key to Victory: I've said this before. At their very best, the Bobcats are much better than a .500 team. However, it's unreasonable to expect them to be at their very best night in and night out. To beat teams like the Hawks, which have two All Stars, three more clear cut NBA starters, and at least one bench guy who could start for a number of teams, they have to turn it up to 11 and play better team ball than their opponents. The slightly less cliche way to put that is that the Bobcats' success is built as much upon the combination of their talents as the accumulation of their talents, and a major ingredient is playing at full throttle in the half court.
We saw in the first half of the OKC game what happens when they play a superior team and don't put pedal to the metal. There is no cruising past anyone with the Cats, so they need to find a way play their brand of high-energy defense over this stretch of four games in six days. Thankfully, the final two games are at Washington and home against Minnesota.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Zaza Pachulia was selected by the Bobcats in the expansion draft, then flipped to Milwaukee for the 45th overall pick of the 2004 draft, which turned out to be the immortal Bernard Robinson, who, in turn, was eventually traded to the New Jersey Nets for that most loathed Bobcat, Jeff McInnis.