Bobcats at Celtics
7:30 PM EST
The Charlotte Bobcats face the Boston Celtics tonight after gaining the upper hand in the season series 2-1 this week with a 100-74 victory at Time Warner Cable Arena. Paul Pierce did not play in that game and the Bobcats took full advantage. Gerald Henderson went off for a career-high 35 points. He didn't have to expend energy guarding the crafty Pierce, and the Bobcats cruised in a game that wasn't really close.
Tonight might be different.
The Cats travel to Boston this time around and should face a Celtics team at (relative/non-Rondo) full strength. Pierce returned to the lineup against Toronto on Wednesday night when he and Kevin Garnett passed a pair of NBA legends on the all-time scoring list (Charles Barkley and Jerry West respectively).
The loss to Charlotte seemed to stick in the craw of the veteran squad and behind 20 points from Jeff Green the Cs used a 28-18 second quarter to jump out ahead of a game Raptors squad. Toronto made a run to cut the lead to four in the second half but Pierce led his team on a 14-4 run to pull away.
Since Boston won the first game between these two on January 14, the Celtics have been without starting point guard Rajon Rondo, who's done for the season with an ACL injury. Rondo causes problems for most of the league and the Bobcats are no exception. So it shouldn't come as a huge surprise the Cats have been able to get a couple of wins in his absence. ...I mean not a HUGE huge surprise.
In his only game against Rondo, Kemba Walker was atrocious, shooting a gruesome 25% from the field scoring 12 points with 4 assists and three turnovers. He was much better in the second matchup shooting 40% for 18 points and six assists. Even earlier this week Walker was better (10 points, four assists, four steals and only one turnover).
But it's been big nights for other players that have helped Charlotte notch two wins. The first win came in Rondo's seventh game out and Charlotte big man Byron Mullens had a career night notching 25 points and pulling down 18 (count ‘em 18!) rebounds. The second required the aforementioned career-night from Henderson but wasn't nearly as close.
You can expect the home crowd to give Boston a little boost, and the funk from this week's earlier loss to Charlotte should be enough to keep the Celtics interested from the opening tip.
But the Bobcats have certainly demonstrated the ability to play with the men in green this year. And it's not like the Bobcats fare drastically worse on the road this season (six of their fourteen wins have come away from the comfy confines of the Cable Box). However, Charlotte scores about 5 points less and gives up an additional two on the road. But when you have the worst effective field goal percentage in the league, what are a few points either way, am I right?
The Bobcats can play with the Celtics, but Boston has been resting since Wednesday and should be fully energized to avenge what was a pretty embarrassing defeat this week. The Bobcats are just 3-14 playing on zero days rest so the young Cats will have to get their legs early.