Clippers Vs. Warriors - Game Preview - Keeping Up With the Joneses

March 11, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Randy Foye (4) shoots a basket against the defense of Golden State Warriors small forward Dominic McGuire (5) and power forward David Lee (10) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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36-23
22-36
STAPLES Center
April 13th, 2012, 12:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul PG Charles Jenkins
Randy Foye SG Klay Thompson
Caron Butler SF Dorell Wright
Blake Griffin PF David Lee
DeAndre Jordan C Jeremy Tyler

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

For the second game in a row, the Clippers find themselves playing a team that was once playing decent basketball, but has fallen on hard times in the last month. In the case of the Timberwolves, their drop off was mostly due to injuries -- for the Warriors, management made a conscious decision at the trade deadline to give up on this season and start building towards next. They traded Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh for the injured Andrew Bogut, and around the same time shut down Stephen Curry and his balky ankle. As a result, the Warriors have lost 15 of their last 19 games. The other similarity in the opponents is that the Clippers have a losing streak against them -- LA had lost three straight to Minnesota, and have lost two straight to the Warriors. They can't afford a let down, can't afford to look at the roster and assume everything will be fine. They need to remember the Cleveland game and the Phoenix game, where they lost to undermanned opponents. There are only seven games left, and the Clippers are clinging to a one game lead in the loss column over the Grizzlies -- Memphis has a much easier schedule down the stretch than the Clippers. LA won't have many games as easy as this one -- they cannot afford to lose it.

The Antagonist:

Looking at the roster, I'm actually shocked that the Warriors have won 4 out of 19 with this team. They are starting three rookies, including the entire backcourt -- and only one of the three was a first round pick. Dorell Wright is a decent shooter, but doesn't do a lot else. Basically, this team is David Lee and a bunch of rookies and mediocre small forwards. I may start a "Mark Jackson for Coach of the Year" petition over the fact that this team has won 4 games since the Ellis trade. When you add Andrew Bogut and Steph Curry into the mix on this team it will get very interesting, but for now it's pretty sad. Still, the Lakers have taken them lightly twice in the last few weeks and almost lost both times -- the Clippers need to stay focused and register the win, because the Lakers won last night and the Grizzlies will probably win later tonight as well -- you can't afford to lose ground to those teams.

The Subplots

  • Tonight's Special Guest Recapper - Yours truly. Let me warn you that this will not be a particularly timely recap. ClipperMax's rugby game starts at 2:15, and I'll have to take him around 1. I won't be able to watch the game on the DVR until after I get home from rugby -- so it will likely be early evening before I've watched the game and written a recap. Just so you know.
  • The Questionable Blogger. Nothing today guys. My streak comes to an end. It was a pretty good run.
  • Key Warriors metrics:
    Pace: 92.3 (9th of 30 NBA Teams)
    Off Rtg: 105.9 (12th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 109.0 (27th of 30)
    If Mark Jackson was hired as the coach to improve the defense, it hasn't really worked, as Golden State remains among the worst in the league.
  • Key Clippers metrics:
    89.2 (27th of 30)
    Off Rtg: 108.1 (4th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 105.4 (17th of 30)
  • Warriors, Wolves and Suns, oh my. The Clippers are currently 3-7 against the Warriors, Wolves and Suns, with today's game and another one in Phoenix remaining. That's depressing. A win today and at least they don't lose the season series to the Dubs.
  • Three point shooting. Players come and go, but the Warriors just keep on shooting threes. They are currently leading the league in three point percentage, making 38.9%. They are second in the league in three pointers made. Brandon Rush, Klay Thompson, Dorell Wright and the newly acquired Richard Jefferson are among the Warriors who will shoot from deep frequently. Defending the long ball will be a definite key for the Clippers tonight. Basically the only way the Clippers could lose this game is if they allow the Warriors to beat them from deep.
  • Last meeting. At the end of a basketball season, even a 66 game basketball season, there are always games that you look back on as bad losses. Games the team should have won, had no excuse for losing. The last game against the Warriors was one of those games. If the Clippers end up missing out on a better seed in the playoffs by a single game, that Warriors game might well be the one that stands out as the least excusable loss. The Clippers only lost at home to two under .500 teams, the Warriors being the lesser of the two.
  • Day game. This is the Clippers last regular season day game this year. These games have a tendency to suffer from low energy. But this one should be another sell out, so at least there should be a big crowd there. The Clippers need to play with urgency despite the early tip time.
  • Mo Williams. Williams returned to the Clippers lineup on Thursday and didn't show any signs of rust. He made 6 of 11 shots, including 2 three-pointers, and handed out 5 assists. Williams' offense with the second unit will be most welcome.
  • Rotation. As I suspected, the first casualty of Williams return was Bobby Simmons. Actually, Simmons role had been shrinking even before Williams played, with Nick Young getting the backup small forward minutes. With four small guards and Young all needing to play, coach Vinny Del Negro needs to find ways to get minutes for all five of them. It won't be a huge problem against Golden State who must play small be necessity. Klay Thompson will be able to shoot over the smaller Clipper defenders, but he's not a significant post up threat.
  • Hack-a-Clipper. On January 12th, Dwight Howard set an all time NBA record with 39 free throws because Mark Jackson employed the Hack-a-Dwight strategy. With a variety of bad free throw shooters to pick from on the Clippers, it's possible the Warriors will use a similar tactic today. Jackson used it against DJ twice at the end of the first half in the second meeting -- and it worked better than anyone could ever have imagined, with an assist from the officials. Chris Paul tried to thwart the strategy by shooting simultaneous to the foul, but on the first foul the refs disallowed Paul's made half court shot, and on the second one they simply ignored the hack, allowing Golden State to rebound the miss and get another score. All told, it was a 5-1, referee-assisted close to the first half for the Warriors. As it happens, DeAndre is shooting better than 60% from the line since the All-Star break, so if Jackson is paying attention he will be targeted Griffin and not Jordan tonight.
  • Warriors bigs. With Udoh gone and Bogut hurt, the Warriors bigs are a motley crew. Lee is a very nice, if undersized, power forward. But Jeremy Tyler and Mickael Gladness are a raw rookies, and Andris Biedrins barely cracks the rotation any more. The Warriors really have no one to defend Blake Griffin, although they will no doubt try Dominic McGuire on him.
  • Nate Robinson. After being bought out by the Thunder just prior to the start of the season, Nate Robinson has found a home with the Warriors. He brings energy and offense off the bench, and in particular has been very helpful when Curry has been out.
  • Effin' Udoh. The Clippers will be happy that Udoh is no longer on the Warriors. The second year forward had two huge games against L.A. this season.
  • Jackon vs. Del Negro on the court. I always find it interesting to look at the history of coaches who were former players against each other. Mark Jackson and Vinny Del Negro were in the NBA together for a dozen seasons, and faced each other 25 times. As you might expect Jackson held the statistical advantage in those matchups -- his teams also won 14 of the 25 games.
  • Other games. There are two other games of particular interest later today. The Grizzlies host the Jazz at 5 and the Suns are playing the Spurs in San Antonio at 6. Suns-Spurs is on ESPN. Ideally we'd like the Jazz to upset the Grizz, but even a Grizz win at least helps the Clippers in terms of clinching a playoff spot. Likewise a Spurs win over the Suns coupled with a Clippers win would move the Clippers very close to clinching.
  • From the Urban Dictionary:

    warrior poet

    n. Coined at the end of the movie, "Braveheart", warrior poet describes the most bad ass of the bad asses. The most highly skilled fighters, competitors, warriors, swordsmen, spartans. No one can trump a warrior poet. Nobody trains like them. They do not know defeat and never will. Their heart, intelligence, and determination are unmatched. Their will to triumph, persevere, and over come are the thing of legend.

    "In the Year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland - starving and outnumbered - charged the fields of Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom." -William Wallace, Braveheart
  • Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind
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