Indiana Pacers (13-1) at Charlotte Bobcats (7-8)
It was just two years ago that the Charlotte Bobcats won only seven games all season in the lockout-shortened 66-game schedule. Tonight, the Indiana Pacers will face an improved, albeit still very young, Bobcats team that has seven wins through its first 15 games of the 2013-14 campaign.
Last season, Indiana lost its first visit to Time Warner Cable Arena. The blue and gold will be in search of a different result this time around, as they also are much improved from previous seasons.
As thing currently stand in the NBA, the Pacers are tied with San Antonio for the league’s best record. Charlotte is in the middle of the pack in terms of overall record, but things will surely change throughout the course of 82 games. There have been many surprises thus far, and the Bobcats have been somewhat intriguing to follow.
Charlotte has three young starters in Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Josh McRoberts. Veterans Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson round out the starting unit.
Ramon Sessions and Jeff Taylor provide some scoring off the bench for the Bobcats. Thus, the Indiana Pacers will need to work their depth and try to wear down an inexperienced Charlotte lineup.
Across the board, Indiana hold just about every advantage in terms of overall player efficiency, offense, defense and coaching. The Pacers are experienced and are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. Charlotte is the worst offensive team in terms of scoring and Indiana is the best defensive team. I wouldn’t expect Charlotte to reach the 90-point plateau.
This is the kind of matchup that favors Roy Hibbert and David West. McRoberts, the former Pacer and Indiana native, has no chance of guarding West. Jefferson has a polished offensive game and can defend reasonably well, but Hibbert is simply too big and too effective on the defensive end. Big games for Indiana’s twin towers.
Paul George ought to come out firing as well. He will be matched up with Kentucky product Kidd-Gilchrist, who is not capable of stopping All-Star caliber players like George.
Indiana’s biggest test will be defending Walker. The versatile point guard can put up a lot of points and is an excellent assist man for his teammates. I envision good help defense on ball screens at the top of the key against Walker.
Charlotte may hang around for awhile tonight, but Indiana eventually pulls away and wins 96-77.