The Charlotte Bobcats will be looking for their first preseason win against a retooled Milwaukee Bucks team tonight (October 12th) in Milwaukee.
So far, the Bobcats and their revamped frontcourt has been fairly unimpressive. Cody Zeller has made starts in both games, and while saying he was unimpressive in both may be unfair, he certainly hasn’t played up to his summer league prowess. So far Zeller has scored 9 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in both games, getting 26 minutes against the Miami Heat and 24 against the Atlanta Hawks.
While it was impossible (as far as I know) to view the game if you weren’t there in KC last night, Zeller did well in that he managed to tack on 3 assists while committing only 1 turnover. Zeller is 7-15 in shots attempted through the first two games, and while he was a perfect 3-3 from the charity stripe against Miami, he went 1-3 against the Hawks… two points that were the difference in an 87-85 loss.
Stepping away from Zeller, pretty much everyone has been erratic. It’s clear that the Bobcats are still testing out their new system, while working out the kinks of working together and playing fundamentally sound basketball.
As for the big offseason acquisition, the hearts of Bobcats fans stopped when word trickled out that he had to be helped off the court with an apparent ankle injury, and with no further information disclosed during the night, Bobcats fans had to spend an entire night wondering if their major investment had just gone south big time. Up until his ankle injury, Big Al was playing very well.
The good news? X-Rays were negative, and Al has no serious injury.
The bad news? That’s two centers (the other being Brendan Haywood, who is out for at last 10 weeks with a foot injury) out for the foreseeable future. Al’s injury may not be severe, but it’s hard to imagine that the Bobcats rush him back to the floor for preseason games.
The Bobcats are taking on another 0-2 team tonight with the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Bucks are coming off a double-digit loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves where the only truly impressive player was John Henson, who scored 16 points on 8-12 shooting in 25 minutes. Offseason acquisition O.J. Mayo only managed 7 points on 3-8 from the floor, and the Bucks’ backcourt is a major area of concern with the departures of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
The key to this game will be each teams’ weakness. Can the Bobcats survive an injury weakened frontcourt, and can the Bucks manage to play relying on their big men?
The two key players tonight will be Cody Zeller, who needs to have a true breakout game against second-year John Henson, and O.J. Mayo, who needs to be show he’s worth his contract by bringing some stability and a scoring punch to the Bucks’ backcourt.
It would also be nice to see Michael Kidd-Gilchrist step up and stop being so timid when his name is called. Kemba Walker must also find balance between being a scorer and being a passer, as he has played a different role in each of his first two games.
It will likely be a close one, but I’m banking on Zeller finally getting out of the box and playing well enough to carry the frontcourt, and by association, the Bobcats, to their first preseason victory.