Given the Carolina Panthers recent struggles, it’s a welcoming sight to see the Charlotte Bobcats early success. After just 14 games, the Bobcats have accumulated the same number of wins as they did all of last season. It’s a surprising start for the Bobcats, as many considered them a non-contender coming into the 2012-2013 season.
Fans should expect a highly competitive game in tonight’s Eastern Conference showdown between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Charlotte Bobcats. This should be an intriguing matchup between two teams looking to gain some ground within their respective divisions.
The 76ers are currently 1.5 games out of first in the Atlantic Division, and have managed to do so without center Andrew Bynum. Bynum was dealt to the Sixers in an offseason trade that sent superstar Dwight Howard to the Lakers. So far Bynum has yet to take the court, and after speculation of an early season return, it looks like he won’t be coming back anywhere in the near future. Coaches and fans have already begun to express their concerns with the former Laker big man, who aggravated his balky knee while out bowling just weeks ago.
Meanwhile the Bobcats are 7-7 and sit comfortably in the middle of the Southeast Division, owning the 8th seed if the playoffs were to start today. Still the season is early, and with a young team and a new head coach, the Bobcats have a long way to go before they can establish themselves as a real contender in the East.
It’s refreshing for Michael Jordan, whose decision making has been questionable since becoming the Majority Owner in March of 2010. After numerous draft busts and lopsided trades, the Bobcats hope that their recent picks can turn the franchise around. So far production has been good for first round picks Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Walker, a second year point guard out of the University of Connecticut, has begun to establish himself as a premier guard in the league. His numbers are up from last season, and likewise his confidence is sky high. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has also performed admirably is his short stint as a Bobcat, making strong contributions on both sides of the court.
Tonight’s game will be a big one for the Philadelphia 76ers. With the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets off to a hot start, the Sixers will need to continue to win if they want to keep the pace with these two Atlantic Division foes.
What to Watch for:
Point guard Jrue Holiday is recently coming off his best game of what has already been a breakout season, scoring a career-high 33 points to go with 13 dimes and three boards in 39 minutes Sunday against the Suns.
Holiday is an early candidate for the league's Most Improved Player award, and tonight’s game should further solidify his campaign.
Backup shooting guard Ben Gordon has stepped up on offense in the absence of Gerald Henderson, and is coming off a team high 27 point performance in Tuesday’s loss at Atlanta. The Bobcats were hoping the former Piston could provide a spark off the bench, and so far he’s met the demands. The Bobcats will need more of the same if they have any chance at pulling out another upset.
With the 76ers lacking a dominant inside presence, look for the Bobcats to utilize the paint. That will require sharpshooting big man Byron Mullens to work the post, while occasionally hitting his outside shots to help spread the floor.
Prediction: Charlotte Bobcats 93, Philadelphia 76ers 87