There’s a strong chance that two streaks will continue when the Clippers meet the Bobcats at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena tonight (7:30pm ET).
The Clips sit atop the Pacific division having reeled off seven straight victories, a streak punctuated with an impressive road triumph in Chicago last night. It’s their longest stretch of consecutive wins since taking eight straight in the 1991-92 season.
Despite their roster depth and the offensive firepower of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford, the Clippers’ strong recent form has been built on defensive foundations. They’ve held their opponents to an average of 91.6 points during their seven straight wins.
At the opposite end of the scale, the struggling Bobcats have, after a surprising 7-5 start, lost their last eight match-ups to slump to fourth place in the South East division. The Cats haven’t recorded a ‘W’ since 24 November, the night they matched their 2011/12 season win total.
To make matters worse, the Bobcats have lost their last three clashes with the Clippers and have come out on top just once in their last five encounters.
Despite their recent woes, the Bobcats do have some reason for optimism this season. Point guard Kemba Walker has scored 20+ points in four of his last five games and showed his playmaking abilities, dishing out a career best 11 assists in Charlotte’s buzzer beater loss to the New York Knicks. Walker leads the Cats in scoring (17.7 PPG), assists (6.1 per game) and steals (2.0 per game).
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the youngest player in the NBA, has contributed more than expected in his rookie season. MKG is playing 27.7 minutes per game, shooting 50% from the field and averaging a steal and 1.4 blocks per game.
What to expect tonight
A strong start from Kemba
The Cats' last outing, a 104-96 loss to Golden State, would have been a blowout save for a fourth quarter rally led by Walker. After the game, the point guard recognised the need to find his best form from the outset of games. He’ll certainly have to against Chris Paul.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan both have in excess of 40 made dunks this season. It’s going to be a long night for Byron Mullins, Brendan Haywood and Bismack Biyombo.
Clips bench will influence the outcome
Built around the firepower of Jamal Crawford, the Clippers pack a weighty scoring punch off the bench but the defence of their reserves is just as impressive. In the Clips’ recent 102-83 win over Toronto, Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, Ronny Turiaf and Lamar Odom played almost the entire fourth quarter and held the Raptors to just three field goals.
Points off turnovers
The light-fingered Clippers lead the NBA in steals per game at 11 while the profligate Bobcats turned the ball over 18 times in their loss to the Warriors.
Where To Watch Online: Los Angeles Clippers at Charlotte Bobcats
It’s a back-to-back game for the Clippers but they are a cut above the struggling Cats on both side of the ball. Score prediction: Clippers 97, Bobcats 84.