Game Time: 7:00 p.m. TV: CSNNW
Hmmm...the Bobcats. What to say?
Well, the Blazers took their best player, resulting in plenty of Charlotte fans wearing "My GM Traded With Portland and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" t-shirts. Yes, they got Joel Przybilla (huge applause tonight please) and Dante Cunningham (also applause tonight) in return but they added them to Stephen Jackson, D.J. Augustin, and Boris Diaw. Jackson and Augustin have been scoring like gangbusters since Wallace departed, Diaw is up and down, and the rest of the roster is best described as "people who used to be somebody with somebody else". Dominic McGuire is the Wizards' cast-off, Tyrus Thomas (injured) is Chicago's, Desagana Diop is Dallas', Eduardo Najera and Kwame Brown have had turns everywhere. It's like this roster was crafted from the second-hand store. Some finds were nice, some are just junk. None of it would approach most people's definition of acceptable quality.
The Bobcats are 26-35 and have won a surprising number of games versus good teams. Most people know about the Lakers but Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, and Chicago (twice) are also on that list. They've gotten by with a slow pace and good interior defense making up for their inability to shoot from anywhere on the floor. The huge asterisk there is that those numbers were posted with Wallace in tow. He plays for the bad guys now and Charlotte will have a hard time replacing his defense, Joel Przybilla or no. In the post-Wallace era they've allowed 98 to the Kings, 100 to the Magic, 120 to the Nuggets, and finally calmed down to hold the Lakers to 92 but still lost. They're 1-3 without GW.
When you tear the heart out of a team it's hard to predict how they'll do. In the short term the prosper sometimes, banding together and fighting the odds. Over the long haul that averages out and they usually lose more than win. We're still in a short-term view and this is the team they traded with so there might be extra incentive to win tonight. Jackson has often been a problem for Portland and Diaw has caused the Blazers fits as well. But neither offer the fit potential that Wallace did. He's always been the dynamite. The Blazers now hold the match. Portland needs to rebound, up the tempo, and blow this team out of the water. They should be sorely disappointed if they lose this game at home no matter who plays or doesn't for either side. Oh, and if Wallace wants to score 30 in the process of winning, let him.
See what they think over at Rufus on Fire.
Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.
[Update: Stephen Jackson is injured and will not play.]