Originally written December 02, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
East Coast Trip Continues The Portland Trail Blazers have had an awful road trip up to this point, but a double-overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers will hopefully give the team the confidence they need to finished the seven-game stretch in strong fashion. Matchup: Portland (7-10) @ Charlotte (7-8) Venue: Time Warner Cable Arena Time: 4:00 PM PT Date: Monday, December 2 2012 The Charlotte Bobcats were the NBA’s worst team last season, but they’re much improved heading into their matchup Monday night. Kemba Walker is the leading scorer on the Charlotte Bobcats this season. (Photo: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) Game Notes/How They Match Up The Trail Blazers and the Bobcats are both rebuilding, but it’s safe to say that Portland has more star power at this point in the process. Charlotte’s leading scorer is Kemba Walker, who is averaging 16.3 points this year, while Portland has three players averaging at least 17.6 points per contest. Defensively, these teams are both struggling. Both give up easy buckets in transition, both struggle to defend the paint and both allow more than 100 points to their opponents. On offense, the Blazers are 12th in the league in three-point percentage, while Charlotte is just 26th, but the Bobcats have the edge in the fast break. Portland has been awful in transition this season, despite their willingness to run, while Charlotte is using their youth and talent to their advantage in that category. What to Watch: Portland As much as we’ve heard about the Blazers’ bench this year, they actually came out and performed well in a double-overtime game against the Cavaliers. The extra minutes helped inflate their stats, but maybe that’s just what a young rotation needs—more time on the floor. The Bobcats are a young team, and while they currently have a better winning percentage than the Blazers, it’s not a bad game to continue giving your prospects time to get better. Portland’s second unit combined for 29 points against Cleveland, which is beyond impressive for a group averaging just 13.9 points per game—by far the worst in the league. If they can come out and put together a similar showing against Charlotte, there’s no reason to believe they can’t take down the home team, and there’s no reason to believe the starters won’t be able to get some rest while doing it. What to Watch: Charlotte The Bobcats are coming off a game where they shot 47 percent from the field, including an 8-of-17 performance from behind the three-point line. The problem was, as good as their offense looked, their defense was equally as bad. Charlotte is going to look to come out and lock down defensively against the Blazers. They haven’t been a good offensive team all year, and now that they’ve seen they can do it, they understand just how important defense can be. Damian Lillard will match up against one the league’s up-and-coming point guards, Kemba Walker. (Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) They know that Portland will give them open looks in this matchup. The Blazers haven’t been good defensively, and Charlotte will look to take advantage. The only question is, will their defensive showing complement what their offense puts on the board? Key Matchup The Trail Blazers are coming off a contest which featured two of the top young point guards in the game, and that will be the position of emphasis in this one as well. The Bobcats have an up-and-coming floor general in Kemba Walker. The second-year player is averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 assists per game, and while it’s questionable at this point as to how far he can take the team on his own, he’s quickly becoming somewhat of a leader on a team that desperately needed leadership last year. Damian Lillard has exceeded the expectations of most this season, as he’s gone up against some of the best point guards that the league has to offer. The schedule has been a tough one for a young guard, and while Walker will have the edge defensively in this contest, few players at the point guard position have had the kind of offensive impact that Damian Lillard has had. Injury Report Portland: N/A Charlotte: DAY-TO-DAY—Gerald Henderson Prediction The Blazers finally know what it feels like to win as the road team in an East Coast swing, so expect them to take that momentum into Monday night’s matchup. Blazers 104 – Charlotte 93 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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