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January 29, 2014

Some pre-game chatter on Bobcats-Nuggets: This one is all about tempo

At shootaround this morning I asked Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford how important transition defense would be tonight against the Denver Nuggets.

            “It’s the whole thing,” Clifford replied.

            The Nuggets try to run as often as possible. They haven’t been particularly effective on defense, but former North Carolina star Ty Lawson, a viable All-Star candidate, pushes the tempo such that it’s not a rarity when the Nuggets threaten to score 120.

            Clifford wants to run when possible. But obviously the Bobcats play more deliberately than the Nuggets and defense is the best part of their game this season.

“It will be a test of wills – their will to slow things down versus our will to keep playing at the pace we’ve been playing, especially as of late,” said Brian Shaw, who replaced longtime Nuggets coach George Karl in the off-season.

(A quick aside: It was just weird this morning not to see George at the Pepsi Center. He and Doc Rivers were the best quotes among NBA coaches. Now one of them is gone and Rivers I get to see just two times a year now that he’s with the Clippers.)

Shaw got a lot of questions this morning from Denver media about how Clifford has turned around the Bobcats defensively. I thought his description was pretty good in scouting Clifford’s priorities.

“They flood the paint and shrink the floor. Any kind of penetration and (perimeter defenders) come into the middle,” Shaw said. “So if we engage their bigs in our pick-and-roll sets and attack the middle, we should be able to get the perimeter shots that we need. We want to put that pressure on them to flood the middle to open up” the 3-point shot.

Obviously Lawson is one of the quickest point guards in the NBA, but it’s not like Ramon Sessions is slow. When Lawson sits Nate Robinson comes in, so the Bobcats will have to defend two rockets at point guard tonight.

One small roster development off morning shootarounds: Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur is available tonight after missing seven games with a hip injury Arthur was missed in the Nuggets’ defense the same way Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s absence limited the Bobcats’ ability to guard.

While Arthur is available, Shaw cautioned it’s hard to gauge how many minutes he can handle tonight.

Many of you have asked about Kemba Walker’s recovery. Clifford told me Walker had no setbacks after some activity at practice Tuesday. Hopefully he can practice Thursday in Los Angeles. That’s the next big step to getting him back into a game.

Posted by Observer Sports on January 29, 2014 at 03:40 PM | Permalink


Jefferson is the key . He's horrifically slow on defense and won't help . Worse , the offense won't have a chance if he gets the ball a ton of times and refuses to hit cutters for layups to keep teamates in the game and the defense honest . But he's greedy , selfish and the sole reason why his teams never do much . Who has won w black holes that play no defense and don't pass ? The Knicks ?

Posted by: Iron man | Jan 29, 2014 5:38:57 PM

i keep hearing about how clifford has turned around the defense. what he has done hasn't translated to wins at all.

the "improvement" i keep hearing about has way more to do with personnel improvements and SOS than anything.

we give up the 3rd worst 3 pt %. we have the 5th worst free throw %. we aren't giving up any offensive boards but we somehow manage to get EVEN LESS and have a negative differential. give up the least amount of turnovers, but create so few that again we end up with a negative differential.

the volumes are down, but the differentials are still negative. how is that actual net improvement?

we allow 8.4 3's a game and make 5.6.

significant INCREASE in average age per minute played and experience of players in rotation. on pace for 33 wins and that's if we're lucky through this next brutal stretch. we probably won't be favored to win but 3 games before april's soft schedule.

if you aren't winning the turnover differential and the OFFENSIVE rebounding differential and the 3 pt shooting differential and simultaneously giving up a bad overall FG%......you aren't going to win many games. we play a slow pace and don't turn the ball over much so that keeps us close, but we aren't going to win anything like this.

people gotta start paying attention to the stats that actually matter. number of possessions and points per possession is all that matters. we're horribly inefficient at both. it reminds me of 2011 and 2012 panthers under chudzinksi's offense. we're putting up gaudy stats but it doesn't win because we aren't controlling the possessions and outscoring opponents.

i'm tired of hearing this dude say "well they made 8 3's we made 2, so that's a 18 point swing" it's a 6 point swing. they don't give 3 MORE points for a 3 point fg. they give 1 additional point. that can be erased by 3 offensive boards or 3 steals. there's no emphasis on that.

and nobody's getting better. anybody else find it incredibly ironic that anthony bennett finally gets to play 30+ minutes and he has a nice game? mike brown and steve clifford have A LOT in common. A LOT.

Posted by: charlottean | Jan 29, 2014 6:35:31 PM

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