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2011-2012 Game 15 Preview: The Cool Bobcats Visit the Thunder

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Okay, so some of you might be thinking, "WHOH! B.J. Mullens is averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds! How did we give up on this guy?!" But before you continue along that line of thinking....

Three of the most flattering faces I've ever seen.
Three of the most flattering faces I've ever seen.

2012-2013 NBA Season
The Charlotte Bobcats (7-5)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (8-3)
November 26th, 2012
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7:00 PM CST
Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, SportSouth
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), Sports Radio 610 AM WFNZ
Enemy Blogs: Rufus on Fire, Bobcats Planet, Bobcats Baseline, Queen City Hoops
Previous Meetings: Nov. 26th (Thunder Lead Season Series 1-0)
Probable Starters
Kemba Walker PG Russell Westbrook
Jeff Taylor SG Thabo Sefolosha
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SF Kevin Durant
Byron (B.J.) Mullens PF Serge Ibaka
Brendan Haywood C Kendrick Perkins

Okay, so some of you might be thinking, "WHOH! B.J. Mullens is averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds! How did we give up on this guy?!" Before you continue along that line of thinking, I'd like you to take a look at his shooting percentages, which are 39% from the floor and 30% from three. Yes, he can be effective and score over 20 points on great shooting, but that's only really happened 4 times this year. At the end of the day, the Bobcats are using him like Dirk Nowitzki, and I think the Thunder have a guy who's going to be better in that type of role anyway. (Yes, that man is Perry Jones III.)

So, how is this new Bobcats team? How are they winning games? Indeed, this team is only one win away from eclipsing last year's win total. But the 7-5 record is a lot of smoke and mirrors. Aside from a game against Memphis, they haven't really faced a legitimate team this season. Sure, they do have some quality wins against Dallas and Milwuakee, but the rest of them have come against teams that are absolutely sputtering, and they've lost to the likes of Toronto, Phoenix, and New Orleans.

Don't get me wrong, this team is making a nice run, and they are showing a lot of promise. But if the above should tell you anything, it's that they're young. And as it goes with young teams, this Bobcats team is fast and sloppy. They love to steal and get out on the break, but they're not necessarily very good at passing. Basically, they'll sometimes straight up give the ball away with bad passes and shots that they shouldn't have jacked up. Along with their high steals, a good offensive rebounding effort usually keeps their offense afloat.

Seeing as how the Cats are a very flawed team, it should be relatively easy for the Thunder to exploit their flaws. They'll feast off of Charlotte turnovers, and relish the chance to go on the break. However, where the Thunder will really take advantage is their half-court offense. The Bobcats have the perfect players to defend KD and Westbrook in Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist, but if the Thunder can slow this game down to a crawl, they'll probably catch the Bobcats trying to trap on more occasion than one. Oh, and KD owned Kidd-Gilchrist in the Pre-Season, so there's that, too.

You might also want to keep an eye on the Bobcats bench unit. Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon leave a lot to be desired defensively, but they can pack a scoring punch and be a serious threat if left open. Charlotte will be missing Tyrus Thomas and Gerald Henderson tonight, but the team has a lot of interchangeable parts, so it won't be a huge deal. And you didn't know how the Bobcats played with them anyway, so how does it change things for you if they're gone?

Anyway, I'm not going to say tonight's game will be a blow out, because flawed as they may be, Charlotte can stay with anyone. But barring something crazy like a B.J. Mullens explosion, I think the Thunder will win this one by 5-10 points. The Bobcats might take the lead at some point in the fourth, but if all these years of NBA watching have told me anything, it's that young teams fold late.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 107, Charlotte Bobcats 101.

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.