On the Bobcats:
Rufus on Fire / Queen City Hoops / Bobcats Baseline
The Bucks and Bobs battled for playoff positioning until the final week of 09/10, and they'll be dueling again tonight as both teams look to snap two game losing streaks.
Location, location, location. Everyone knows the Bucks were atrocious scoring around the cup a year ago (56.3%, last in the league), so if you're looking for positives from the first two games, consider this: the Bucks made 66.7% of their shots around the hoop in the first two games. So yeah, they're doing at least one thing better.
The downside is that they've only averaged 21 shots per game from close range, less than the 24 shots the averaged from close range last year. Corey Maggette is a perfect 6/6 and Brandon Jennings is 5/9 through two games, and while the sample is so small it's almost meaningless, watching Jennings play it does seem like he has an increased confidence and purpose when he ventures into the paint. At least that's what I'm telling myself. That's also translated into 12 fta through two games, about double the 3.3 fta/g he averaged last year. Tough to say if he can really keep up that pace over a full season, but it would do wonders for his game if he did.
The problem (well, one of them) has been in the jump-shooting department. The Bucks made a wretched 6/26 from 16-23 feet last night after making just 3/17 against New Orleans, translating to a horrifying 21% in aggregate. Last year they shot about the same number of long twos per game (20.6) but were 7th in the league at 40.6%. Even without Luke Ridnour and his ridiculous 57% figure from that range, the Bucks will no doubt get better. That should also apply to Jennings, who has missed all four of his shots from 16-23 feet and missed all six of his threes last night. Overall, Jennings is just 2/16 on shots outside 15 feet, which explains how his efficiency continues to stink (31% overall, 42% TS) despite his improvements around the hoop.
The Line. The Bucks' improvements from the line were a nice talking point during the preseason, but it hasn't manifested itself yet in the regular season. Corey Maggette has done exactly what he was expected to do with a 16/16 performance from the stripe thus far, but overall the Bucks have been outshot at the line 65-53 through two games while making just under 70%. These are not good things, especially given their inability to make shots (39% from the field, 26% from three). I don't think the Bucks can be better than an average to somewhat below-average offensive team, but they're also not this bad.
About the Bobs. Charlotte lost by 15 on the road in Dallas and then slumped to a 105-101 home opening loss to the Pacers last night, so Bobcat fans are feeling some of our pain. Stephen Jackson struggled from the field (4/13) and couldn't stop Danny Granger (33 pts on 23 shots).
Up front, Larry Brown gave starting center Nazr Mohammed just 13 minutes of burn against Indiana, opting to play defensive space eater DeSagana Diop 22 minutes of scoreless action before he fouled out against Roy Hibbert. That meant the Bobs went small a fair bit as well, with Tyrus Thomas splitting time between the 4/5. I doubt we'll see TT matched up with Andrew Bogut, who struggled offensively in three games against Charlotte last year (13 ppg, 42% shooting) but did average 4.7 blocks
Gerald Wallace was the Bobs best player with 29 points including 12/18 from the stripe last night, so Carlos Delfino will predictably have his hands full keeping the hyper-energetic Crash in front of him. The more interesting matchup will be when Maggette is in the game--I'd love to see Maggette try to get Wallace in foul trouble, but the opposite could happen just as easily.