Any time two first overall draft picks meet in an NBA game, it’s almost always a time for excitement. Considering that the two players involved tonight are Andrea Bargnani and Kwame Brown, this is not one of those times.
At 8-15, the Bobcats are only one win behind the Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings, but the two teams should enter this game with very different levels of confidence. Charlotte lost 93-62 to the Celtics on Saturday and didn’t score more than 16 points in any quarter, while Toronto came from 25 points behind for a semi-inspirational 120-116 win over the Pistons on the same day.
As you might expect from a bad team coached by Larry Brown, they’re decent defensively but they tend to have trouble making buckets. The Raptors’ porous defence might be just what they need to snap out of their recent funk — I’m pretty sure M.J. could suit up and drop 20 on this team.
Toronto: Jose Calderon didn’t travel with the team, so Jerryd Bayless gets another start at point guard.
Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas is expected to play tonight in spite of a quadriceps injury.
1. Can the Raptors break their five-game streak of giving up at least 113 points to their opponents? Charlotte has topped that figure in just two of their 23 games this season (against Phoenix and Minnesota).
2. If Bayless has another strong night similar to his 31-point, 7-assist, 5-rebound performance against Detroit, will there be another point guard controversy on the Raptors?
3. Is Andrea Bargnani becoming a playmaking center? After just 30 assists in his first 21 games this season, he has 11 assists in his last three games.
4. Does anyone know who holds the NBA record for the most different teams played on by a first overall pick? The Bobcats are Kwame Brown’s fifth team.
5. Would you be willing to bet money that Larry Brown will make it through the season in Charlotte without “leaving to spend more time with his family”? I wouldn’t.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Charlotte: D.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Nazr Mohammed
Your pregame song for tonight is “Broke Ass Holiday” by One Block Radius. Take it from me, you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy the holiday season.