Clippers vs. Washington - Game Preview

2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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13-7

4-19
Verizon Center
February 4th, 2012, 4:00 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul
PG John Wall
Chauncey Billups SG Nick Young
Caron Butler SF Jan Vesely
Blake Griffin
PF Rashard Lewis
DeAndre Jordan
C JaVale McGee

The Back Story:

First meeting of the season. The Clippers swept the two game series last year.

The Big Picture:

The Clippers begin their longest road trip of the season the way you want to begin a road trip -- against one of the worst teams in the league. In their last game the team looked tired in losing by 20 to Denver. They had every right to be tired, playing the second game of back to backs and their fourth game in five nights. But then again, it's not like there's a lot of rest in the schedule the remainder of the season. If they were tired on their fourth game in five nights, what about their fifth game in seven nights, like tonight? The last time the Clippers got blown out, they turned around and beat the defending champion Dallas Mavericks the next night, while playing without Chris Paul, so the good news is that the team seems to be capable of quickly moving forward from a poor performance. With Andray Blatche injured, it's hard to figure who the Wizards can possibly use to defend Blake Griffin. The last time Griffin saw the Wizards, he went for his first career triple double with 33 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists in a double overtime win. That may be a little too much to hope for tonight, but he could certainly have a big game.

The Antagonist:

The Wizards are 4-19, tied for the second worst record in the NBA. When you consider that the team started the season 0-8, I guess 4-19 doesn't seem so bad. Then again, half of their wins have come against Charlotte, the only team in the league with a worse record. They did upset Oklahoma City for one of their wins, so one would be wise not to sleep on them completely. This is still an NBA team. The Wizards fired head coach Flip Saunders after 17 games when the team was 2-15; Randy Wittman is the interim head coach.Wittman is the fourth head coach for the Wizards since the start of the 08-09 season, and there will likely be a fifth one before next season begins. But whoever the coach is, he's going to have to have some good players to win games, and the Wizards don't have enough of those. John Wall, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, has a world of talent, but has regressed in almost every statistical category in this his second pro season. He's shooting under 40% on the season, and has made just 1 of 11 three pointers this season. Nick Young, always a willing shooter, is the team's leading scorer, at almost 17 a game, but he's shooting just 41%. These percentages sum up a big part of Washington's problems -- they can't shoot, and as a team are right around 42%, 27th in the league.

The Subplots

  • Finally, a patsie. We've pointed out many times that the Clippers have had one of the toughest schedules in the NBA so far. 15 of their first 20 games have been against teams with winning records, and even the 5 sub-.500 teams they've played weren't that bad. Minnesota and Milwaukee have 10 wins, Golden State, Toronto and New Jersey have 8. There are five teams in the league with fewer than 8 wins, but the Clippers haven't played any of them yet -- until tonight.
  • Not so bad, as road trips go. This Clippers six game road trip, at least on paper, doesn't look too brutal. For one thing, there's only one back to back the entire time. And as it happens, the Clippers are in Charlotte for the second game of that back to back, and Charlotte is easily the worst team in the league right now. The very fact that half of the six teams have losing records is a welcome change after the start the Clippers have had, and frankly, Washington and Charlotte look like gimmes. That means the Clippers just need one more win to have a .500 trip -- two more to come back 4-2. It's certainly possible.
  • Beating the bad teams. Of course, that assumes that the Clippers take care of business against the bad teams. LA is 4-1 against teams sub-.500 teams this season, with the lone loss coming against Minnesota, at the buzzer, in a game they played without Chris Paul and without Caron Butler. So far they've mostly done what they needed to do against the bad teams.
  • Remember when people thought John Wall would be Rookie of the Year? Seriously, before the season started last year, people were picking Wall as the ROY over Blake Griffin. When Wall went for 28 and 29 in his second and third games, they started engraving the trophy. But it didn't work out that way in the end.
  • 30-15-10. Looking at Blake's 33-17-10 triple double from last season got me thinking -- I wonder how many 30-15-10 triple doubles there have been? The answer is 17 since 1985. He's in some pretty good company too, as you might imagine.
  • Flip Saunders. Saunders was fired for the Wizards poor start, but it's hard to see how it's his fault. The Wizards don't really have the talent to win games. The Gilbert Arenas situation more or less killed the franchise, and they aren't close to recovering from it yet. Remember, the Wizards signed Arenas to a 6 year/$111M contract in the summer of 2008. Between injuries and suspensions, he played 55 more games for the Wizards before being traded to Orlando; and all the Wizards did there was trade problems with the Magic, because now the Wizards are saddled with Rashard Lewis' ridiculous contract. So sure, it was all Flip Saunders' fault.
  • Rashard. Quick, who is the second highest paid player in the NBA? First is Kobe Bryant, third is Tim Duncan, fourth is Kevin Garnett. Those all make sense. Second on the list, at over $22M this season, is Rashard Lewis. The Wizards didn't bother to amnesty the guy, I guess because they didn't have anyone to use that money on. Oh, and just so you know, Arenas is fifth on the list, but he did get amnestied.
  • Caron back in DC. This will Caron Butler's first game against the Wizards since being traded from Washington to Dallas in February of 2010. Butler had his best seasons in Washington, where he played for almost five years and made two All Star games. In 07-08 he averaged 20 points, close to 7 rebounds and just under 5 assists. He doesn't have to be a featured scorer in LA like he was in DC, but he's been consistent for the Clippers all season.
  • Andray Blatche out. Andray Blatche has a strained calf and will be out for about a month. He injured himself just last week. 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. This game features the NBA's co-leaders in blocked shots per game. JaVale McGee of the Wizards has 66 blocks in 22 games, DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers has 60 blocks in 20 games. If one of them can manage to block more shots than the other tonight they'll take over sole possession of first place in blocks per game.
  • Jordan and McGee. DeAndre Jordan and JaVale McGee were in the same draft. Jordan went from lottery pick to the second round in the course of his freshman year at Texas A&M and draft workouts, while McGee went from relative unknown to first round pick in the course of his sophomore year at Nevada and draft workouts. They're similar players, in that they are both impossibly long and uncommonly athletic for their size. If anything, McGee is longer and more athletic, neither of which is very likely when you're comparing someone to DeAndre. McGee's offensive game is more developed. Jordan has more strength to battle in the post. Comparing the two is interesting. They have almost identical block numbers as we pointed out (though JaVale's average per minute is higher). McGee rebounds better and scores more on a per minute basis. But Jordan has a significantly higher shooting percentage, since he rarely takes anything other than a dunk. DeAndre just got paid as a free agent -- it will be McGee's turn next summer, and he'll make a ton.
  • Famous Quotation:

    wizard

    Someone who knows everything there is to know about drugs. Capable of giving you any advice you need so you dont O.D. or have a bad trip.

    Q: I wonder if these shrooms are any good
    A: I dont know let's call the wizard

  • Get the Wizards perspective Bullets Forever.
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