Matchup: Charlotte Bobcats (39-38) At Washington Wizards (40-37)
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Time: 7:00 ET
PG: Kemba Walker Vs John Wall
SG: Gerald Henderson Vs Bradley Beal
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Vs Trevor Ariza
PF: Josh McRoberts Vs Nene Hilario
C: Al Jefferson Vs Marcin Gortat
After successfully securing the second playoff berth in the Bobcats’ young franchise history with a win against Cleveland last Saturday, the ‘Cats have arguably the biggest game of their season tonight against Wizards in D.C. Currently, Charlotte sits in the seventh spot in the East standings but trails tonight's opponent by just one game for the conference’s sixth seed. While on the surface the difference between a sixth and seventh seed might not seem too monumental, it could end up being the difference between a shot at the Eastern Conference Finals or a first round exit. You see, if the ‘Cats finish with the seventh seed in the East, they will play either Miami or Indiana in the opening postseason series, which all but guarantees a first round exit for Charlotte. I understand that the Bobcats have had some success against the Pacers this season (1-2), but the playoffs are a different animal for the elite teams in the NBA. Meanwhile, if the ‘Cats ganer the sixth seed in the conference, they would likely be matched up with a Raptors team that was swept by Charlotte (3-0) in their season series. Tonight’s game could certainly shape the playoffs for the Bobcats.
Now that the importance of tonight’s game is clear, it’s time to preview the matchup. The Wizards come into tonight’s game having won four out of their last six games, but lost to our ‘Cats 100-94 in Charlotte during that stretch. Washington is lead by their fantastic backcourt tandem consisting of John Wall (19.8 PPG) and Bradley Beal (17.0 PPG) but also receives solid support from forward Nene Hilario (14.2 PPG) and center Marcin Gortat (13.0). On a side note, I saw Gortat eating at Five Guys in downtown D.C. just last month. Hopefully, that burger and fries will finally catch up with the center tonight against the ‘Cats.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats have won their past four contests and will try to earn their longest winning streak of the season with a win tonight. While this nice stretch for the ‘Cats came against some of the league’s bottom feeders, to string together four consecutive “W’s” in today’s NBA is impressive no matter the opponent.
With three days of rest, a hot Al Jefferson, and a Bobcats team with plenty of confidence, the ‘Cats should prevail in our nation’s capital tonight to improve their chances at earning the sixth Eastern Conference playoff spot. Watch for Big Al to have another stellar game for Charlotte and a 99-96 against Washington.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe