Clippers vs. Milwaukee - Game Preview

2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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3-2

2-4
Staples Center
January 6th, 2012, 7:30 PM
Prime Ticket, NBA-TV, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul
PG Brandon Jennings
Chauncey Billups SG Carlos Delfino
Caron Butler
SF Stephen Jackson
Blake Griffin
PF Ersan Ilyasova
DeAndre Jordan
C Drew Gooden

The Back Story:

First and only meeting of this season. The teams split two games last season, each team winning at home.

The Big Picture:

The full arsenal of Lob City was on display for the first time in the Clippers' Wednesday night win over Houston. The defense still wasn't great in that game, but if the offense plays that well, defense won't matter a lot. Chris Paul was aggressive from the opening tip, Blake Griffin was a beast, the shooters made their shots, and the Clippers looked a lot like the team that citizens dream they can be - an unstoppable juggernaut on offense. It wasn't even that they made shots - they did, and of course that will always help. But they have so many weapons that they GOT great shots all night. And if you get great shots, you're going to make more than you miss. The Clippers need to build on the momentum from that game against a relatively weak opponent tonight. They have a trio of tough games looming next, but they can't afford to look past this one. They have to take care of business, and when doing so figures to be so much fun, then why not?

The Antagonist:

The Bucks are 2-4, and given that they've already had games against Charlotte, Washington, Minnesota and Sacramento, that's not very good. Thursday night in Sacramento they led the Kings by 14 heading into the fourth quarter and lost. The Bucks have been looking for the right combination of players for a few seasons now, but it hardly seems as if this could be the group. In three team off-season trade they acquired Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih while giving up John Salmons, Corey Maggette and the number 10 pick in the draft which became Jimmer Fredette. Meh. We'll see, but I hardly think Captain Jack is going to be the guy to show Brandon Jennings how to win in the NBA. The Bucks do have what seems to be two good building block pieces, and the two most important positions: Jennings at the point guard, and and the underrated Andrew Bogut at center. But beyond that it's kind of a mishmash, and Bogut won't be playing in this one, so they're going to be at a pretty distinct disadvantage against the Clippers tonight.

The Subplots

  • Haven't lost all year. With a New Year's Day win over the Blazers followed by Wednesday's blow out over the Rockets, the Clippers have yet to lose in 2012. They should be able to stay undefeated on the year tonight.
  • Reggie Evans debut? Evans practiced with the Clippers for the first time Thursday and again Friday and may make his season debut tonight. The Clippers are the worst rebounding team in the NBA right now, so Evans could add a sorely needed presence on the boards. And of course he'll go after loose balls. [Note by Steve Perrin, 01/07/12 4:38 PM PST ] Hat tip to citizen bestclipfan and Brad Turner's tweet, Evans is going to play.
  • Last meeting. The last time the Clippers played the Bucks was last February, just prior to the All Star break. It was during that nightmarish February road trip, and the Milwaukee game may have been the low point of the entire season. The Bucks destroyed the Clippers 102-78 in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. That was mostly a different Clippers team, but one presumes that Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye at least remember and would like to get a little redemption.
  • Bogut. Bogut will be missing his third straight game tonight as he deals with an undisclosed personal situation. He's Australian, so when he has to deal with a personal situation, it involves a lot of travel, which is part of the reason he's missing at least three games.
  • Delfino. Starting on the wings for the Bucks (it's hard to say in fact which is the small forward and which is the shooting guard) will be Jackson and Carlos Delfino. In that February debacle, Delfino hit a career high 7 three pointers against the Clippers. Chauncey Billups will be at a height disadvantage trying to defend Delfino (or Jackson for that matter), but as long as he can chase him off the three point line I'll be happy. I don't want to relive any memories from that February game.
  • Livingston. The Bucks acquired former Clipper Shaun Livingston in that big three team off-season trade. Shaun's been productive in 24 minutes a game for the Bucks this season. With Livingston on the floor, the Bucks can play a backcourt that will tower over the Clippers' diminutive guards. This is Livingston's third trip back to LA to face his former team, each time with a different team.
  • MDjr. Another familiar name for Clipper fans, Mike Dunleavy, is now a Buck. Junior, not senior. However MDjr is dealing with a pulled groin muscle and missed the Sacramento game, and is not with the team on this trip.
  • Depleted Bucks. In addition to Bogut and MDjr, the Bucks may also be missing Luc Richard Mbah a Moute tonight. LRMAM is dealing with some tendinitis in his knee, and was planning to see a specialist while he's in LA (he played his college ball here with the Bruins of course). Assuming his doctor doesn't come up with a miracle cure, LRMAM will likely miss this game. The good news for the Bucks is that Beno Udrih returned to the lineup on Thursday.
  • Another former Clipper. Drew Gooden will be starting at center for the Bucks in the absence of Bogut. Gooden is also a former Clipper, but only briefly at the end of the 09-10 season, and frankly, I'd rather not think about the "Gooden era". Gooden and Livingston are the only Clipper-Bucks I can think of in this game, which is quite a reduction from last year, when Milwaukee had five former Clippers on their roster.
  • Griffin. Blake Griffin scored 32 points on 20 shots in the Clippers win against Milwaukee last season, and only 19 on 19 shots in their loss. Being defended by the likes of Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden and Larry Sanders tonight, I think we can expect something closer to the former rather than the latter.
  • Leisurely pace. The Clippers should enjoy the leisurely pace of games while they can, because it's all about to change. But for now, facing the Bucks after two more days off, the Clippers have played fewer games than any other team in the league. It's undoubtedly been a major boost to the team, to get plenty of extra practice time early in the season to work on integrating three new starters.
  • Jennings. Third year guard Brandon Jennings is the Bucks leading scorer at 19.8 points per game. He's coming off a season-high 31 against Sacramento in a game in which he made 6 of 10 three pointers. Then again, he was 2 for 22 from three point range in the four games before that, so maybe the Clippers won't be so anxious to keep him from shooting from out there. He's certainly willing.
  • Inefficiency experts. Jennings has taken almost 15 shots per game in his NBA career (and he's up to 18 this year) while making less than 40% of them. So of course the Bucks decided to trade for Stephen Jackson, who is one of the few players in the NBA that can make Jennings' shooting look respectable. Jackson is below 42% for his 12 year NBA career, and is making just a third of his shots so far this year.
  • Front line advantage. The Clippers appear to have the advantage in several spots in this game, but none so much as in the front court. With Bogut out and Gooden, a natural power forward, starting at center, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan should enjoy a significant physical advantage. It's also a game where we don't have to fear Brian Cook's defense too much, since the Bucks' bigs aren't going to do too much damage even against Cookie.
  • Home team for Caron. I found out today that Caron Butler is from Racine, Wisconsin. I did not know that. I guess I assumed that since he went to UConn he was from somewhere further east. At any rate, and for what it's worth, Butler will be facing his home state team tonight. By the way, Butler has been very solid for the Clippers on the young season, scoring in double figures in every game, providing a consistent additional option when he's on the floor. On a team with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, Butler had one of the better dunks on Wednesday after taking a pass from Chris Paul on the fast break. It was a good sign, as he seems to have plenty of explosiveness after his injury rehab.
  • From the Urban Dictionary:

    buck

    v. to get ready to fight

    what you tryin to buck

  • Get the Bucks perspective at Brew Hoop.
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