Clippers vs. Washington - Game Preview

2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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17-9

7-22
STAPLES Center
February 15th, 2012, 7:30 PM
FS West, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul
PG John Wall
Randy Foye SG Nick Young
Caron Butler SF Chris Singleton
Blake Griffin
PF Trevor Booker
DeAndre Jordan
C JaVale McGee

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

The Clippers played the Wizards 11 days ago at the outset of their Grammy trip and got exactly the start they were looking for -- a blowout win against an overmatched opponent. And that was in Washington. With that exceedingly easy victory still fresh in mind, it's hard to imagine a rematch in LA being the least bit competitive. But the Clippers would be wise to remember two things: (1) Cleveland February 8 and (2) Portland February 14. The Clippers got complacent against the Cavs last week, especially upon learning at the last moment that Kyrie Irving would not play, and ended up losing a game they should have won. And last night in Portland, Washington put up 124 points in beating the Trail Blazers. So take the game seriously. The Clippers haven't lost consecutive games since 2011, and a loss in Dallas in game they could have won will probably help focus the team as well. Blake Griffin has owned the Wizards in his young NBA career -- he posted his first career triple double against them late last season, and likely would have posted his third had his presence been required for more than 32 minutes in the first meeting this season. He finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. The Wizards haven't found anyone who can come close to defending Blake in two seasons, so I would expect more of the same tonight.

The Antagonist:

The Wizards were 4-20 after the Clippers left them battered and beaten 11 days ago -- they're 3-2 since. Sure, two of those wins have come against Toronto and Detroit and the third against a Portland team playing without LaMarcus Aldridge, but a young team will find confidence where it can. John Wall has been a little disappointing in his second season, but he seems to have picked it up since the last time the Clippers saw these guys. In his last five games, Wall is averaging 22.6 and 9.4 assists per game -- he's scored at least 29 in three of the last five. So although the matchup between Wall and Chris Paul was a mismatch last game, perhaps it will be more exciting this time. Wall's backcourt mate Nick Young scored a career-high 35 last night in Portland, and is averaging 20 in February. Coach Randy Wittman, who took over for Flip Saunders a few weeks back, has been experimenting with the starting forwards. He recently benched Rashard Lewis, and is currently starting second year pro Trevor Booker and rookie Chris Singleton.

The Subplots

  • DVR alert. This is another game on Fox Sports West, not Prime Ticket. Make sure your DVRs are set accordingly. It's a little less of an issue with a 7:30 start, since most everyone will be home and ready to watch -- unless you're at the game. While you're at it, tomorrow night is TNT, so schedule that one too.
  • Last preview. The Clippers last played the Wizards a mere 11 days ago. Go read the bullets from the preview I wrote then. Most of them still apply.
  • New logo. I screwed up on the preview for the first game. I did a copy and paste from a preview from last season, and didn't bother to change the logo. The Wizards updated their color scheme during the off-season, going with red, white and blue, which somehow seems a little more appropriate in our nation's capital than teal and copper, or whatever the hell those colors were called (they certainly weren't UCLA blue and gold). The new unis are an homage to the old Washington/Baltimore/Capital Bullets -- as is the alternate logo, which I went with above. The old Bullets logo had hands rebounding a basketball at the top of the double L's. The alternate Wizards logo is just a lower case dc, with the top of the d ending in a hand with a basketball above it. A nice nod to the team's history.
  • Washington, New Jersey, Atlanta. The Clippers are facing the Wizards for the second time, which is noteworthy in that they will only play three Eastern Conference teams twice all season. The other two East teams the Clippers see twice are New Jersey and Atlanta. LA really caught a scheduling break there, as New Jersey and Washington are currently 12 and 14 of the 15 teams in the East. Atlanta is decent, but a second game against Charlotte would have raised eyebrows, especially after the dubious circumstances of the Paul trade.
  • Three guards, 85 points. The Wizards dropped 124 on Portland last night, a season high. 85 points came from their guard trio of Wall (29), Young (35) and Jordan Crawford off the bench (21). The Clippers will need to cool those guys off a bit.
  • Wizards on a back to back. The Wizards are doing tonight what the Clippers will do tomorrow night: play a second game in two nights with a PDX-LAX flight in between. The Clippers know from experience that it is a very difficult B2B. In general, the NBA schedule maker has been kind to the Clippers this week. Not only is this the second Wizards game of the season, the Clippers also have the rest advantage on each of their next two opponents. The Wizards are on a B2B tonight while the Clippers last played on Monday; meanwhile, though the Clippers will be on a B2B tomorrow night, the Blazers will be on the third game of a B2B2B.
  • Point differential. Citizen Belgian Clipper has done some interesting work devising an adjusted point differential this week. The intent is to account for strength of schedule, specifically the amount that a team would be expected to win by versus what they actually won by, to come up with a more accurate number. The Clippers current 2.4 point differential is pretty lackluster, leading some pundits to question the team's 17-9 start. One way to combat these concerns is to pad that differential, but pounding the bad teams and winning by a wide margin.
  • Nice welcome home. The Clippers left on a long road trip and played their first game against the Wizards. They return from the same trip to their first home game in a couple of weeks and play ... the Wizards. Really, all transitions all season long should start with a game against the Wizards. It just softens the blow.
  • Chris Paul remains the key. The Clippers fortunes continue to be tied almost directly to the scoring of Chris Paul. The team is undefeated, 12-0, in games in which Paul has scored 17 or more. In Cleveland and Dallas he scored 16 -- which turned out not to be enough, running the record to 2-7 when he plays and scores 16 or less. He scored a season low two against the Wizards in the first meeting, but it didn't turn out to matter. I'd rather not risk it tonight -- CP3 should just get his 20 and end the suspense.
  • Rashard. OK, it's well documented that Rashard Lewis is the second highest paid player in the league, making over $21M this season. He's now making that money coming off the bench. He has played 12 and 17 minutes as a reserve. If he were to play 15 minutes per game in an 82 game season at his current salary, he'd be making over $17K per minute.
  • Andray Blatche out. Andray Blatche is still out with a strained calf. Blatche isn't great, but he is the Wizards' second leading rebounder and fifth leading scorer on the season. Then again, he was another one shooting 38%, so maybe it's not such a big loss.
  • Block party. When last we met, JaVale McGee and DeAndre Jordan were essentially tied for the league lead in blocks per game. Since then, they've each fallen back a bit, and Serge Ibaka has surged into the lead (see what I did there)? McGee is now at 2.76, Jordan at 2.65 and Ibaka is just over 3.
  • Another close Jordan, McGee race. According to the CBS Sports Dunk-o-meter, McGee has 65 dunks in 28 games, while Jordan has 61 dunks in 26 games. That's good for third and fourth in the league in raw numbers. But Jordan's actually ahead of McGee in dunks per game, 2.35 to 2.32. Blake Griffin leads the league in dunks and dunks per game, and Dwight Howard is the only other player ahead of McGee and Jordan.
  • From the Urban Dictionary:

    wizard

    A person who does and says stupid and goofy things

    Yo get away from me u wizard

  • Get the Wizards perspective Bullets Forever.
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