The Back Story:
First meeting of the season. Golden State won the season series last year 3-1.
The Big Picture:
After playing five games in seven nights to open the season, the Clippers have had three full days off, which is pretty rare in the NBA. Of course, after being overworked in the first five games, they'll probably be rusty in this one. You just can't win (almost literally). The Clippers opened the season 0-4 against teams that won 45 or more last season, then beat the first losing team the faced, the Timberwolves, on Monday. The Warriors also had a losing record last season, so hopefully that trend will continue. I was pretty lukewarm on the Wolves win, but maybe I should feel a little better about it after Minnesota came within two of Boston Wednesday night. As for the Warriors game, Baron Davis seems to like playing his former mates. In a season in which his overall scoring was way off, he averaged 26 points per game against the Dubs last season. In fact, Baron scored 25 or more 7 times last season, and 3 of those came against the Warriors. Given CMDsr's penchant for matching up to the opponent, I am guessing that Al Thornton will get the start at 'power' forward, since too-old-and-too-crazy-to-care-what-people-think Don Nelson is now starting Stephen Jackson at the four. Either way, it's clear the Rasual Butler will get his second start of the season. Thornton missed practice on Thursday due to illness, so he may not be able to play.
The Warriors, aka the Clippers-North, are the only team in the NBA that can consistently rival the Clippers in levels of dysfunction. In fact, Clipper trauma this year has been limited to rather mundane things - injured saviors and fourth quarter collapses, big deal. The Warriors have disgruntled stars, trade demands, players openly questioning their roles and their teammates, minutes controversy - all the really good stuff. It's too bad too, because there's talent on the roster, but I don't think anyone believes the season can be a success given all the turmoil. Stephen Jackson doesn't want to be there, Monta Ellis doesn't want to share with Steph Curry, Anthony Randolph just wants to play - it's a soap opera. But between the guys that were supposed to be good (Jackson is flawed but talented, Corey Maggette is who he is, Curry and Randolph and Andris Biedrins were lottery picks) and the guys they just sort of found lying around (Monta Ellis was a second round pick, Kelenna Azubuike was in the D-League, Anthony Morrow was undrafted) they've assembled quite a lot of young talent. They can win some games this season if they can keep from self-destructing. They got their first win of the season Wednesday versus the Grizzlies.
- Clips Nation Viewing Party! Stop by the Beach Club, 5755 E. Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach, at the intersection of PCH and Bellflower. We'll be there from pre-game to post-game, out on the patio. Just stop by and ask them for the Clips Nation party. We got a few responses on the earlier post, but I'm hoping that a bunch of people will stop by.
- Butler and Thornton. The small forward position looked weak going into the season, and so far it has been worse than we feared. Thornton is shooting 33.3%; Butler 38.5%. Thornton has at least rebounded well. Between the two of them, they've had one decent game in 10 chances (Butler versus Phoenix). At least one of them needs to step up - preferably both. As I mentioned above, Thornton sat out practice Thursday with an illness, so it remains to be seen if he'll play in this one. If he can go, I expect he'll get plenty of minutes at power forward.
- The Matchup Game. Continuing the theme of matching up to the Warriors, there are some things we can expect from this game. (1) DeAndre Jordan will not play. (2) Eric Gordon will play a LOT. (3) With Butler playing the three and Thornton playing the four if he plays at all, Sebastian Telfair, Baron Davis and Gordon will take the vast majority of the backcourt minutes, with Bassy and Baron playing lots of minutes together. Basically, take away minutes from the bigs (except possibly Kaman) and add minutes to Telfair, Baron, Gordon and Butler. That's your rotation. I'm not saying it's what I would do, but it's what MDsr is going to do.
- Kaman 3.0. Chris Kaman has been on a tear. Particularly in the first half recently, Kaman has been putting up incredible stats. He scored a career high 27 Saturday against Dallas, and followed that up with 25 on Monday. He had never before in his career scored 20+ in three consecutive games, and he's got a streak of four going at this point. I fully expect him to make it five tonight. In year's past the pace and general peskiness of teams like Phoenix and Golden State have bothered Kaman, but this season he just seems immune to it. He's prepared to take advantage of them where he can, without allowing them to disrupt his game. Now, Andris Biedrins is no slouch, but Kaman's got his entire arsenal working right now, and I don't think Biedrins can stop him. And certainly no one else on the Warrors can slow him down, especially if Ronny Turiaf is out (he's got a gimpy knee and is listed as day-to-day).
- Eric Gordon. Eric Gordon has had some nice games so far this season. But he hasn't really had a big game yet. You just have the feeling that he's going to hang 30 on someone pretty soon here. How about tonight? Against Ellis and Curry, expect MDsr to run some post ups for both EJ and Baron in this game. (Note that the Clippers sometimes get into trouble with this kind of thing. They get so focused on the matchup that they will use most of the clock just getting started. It's a function of suddenly doing something that's not really in your nature. EJ's not accustomed to establishing and holding post position, and the Clippers aren't the best team in the league at making entry passes. The net result can be twelve seconds of struggling to get the ball to the guy in the right spot, and three four seconds on the shot clock by the time he's finally got the ball. Not the most beautiful thing to watch.)
- Anthony Morrow. Morrow scored 37 in his first NBA start last November against the Clippers. He scored 21 and 32 in the two pre-season meetings. He scored 24 in the Warriors first win Wednesday night against the Grizzlies. The guy is a scoring machine, and I'm still shocked that nobody drafted him last year. I mean, if you're a scout, how do you miss that this guy is the best shooter ever? It's not like he's one of those intangibles guys. What is does is pretty effing tangible. He's the best. shooter. ever. Or maybe he's only that good when he plays the Clippers. MDsr told me that he wants guys to close out on Morrow's shooting hand and chase him off the three point line, make him put the ball on the floor. Yeah, seems like a good idea.
- Anthony Randolph. After leading the summer league in scoring, and being on pretty much everyone's short list for having a 'breakout' season, Anthony Randolph has taken 14 shots in 3 games so far. He played 7 minutes Wednesday. This guy is an absolutely massive talent. Why won't Nelson just play him?
That's what I like to hear. But I got a word of warning for all you would-be warriors. When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y'all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die tryin'.
- Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind.