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Clippers vs. Nuggets - Game Preview and Open Thread

Clippers
vs
Nuggets
5-4 8-3
Staples Center
Nov. 21, 2007 - 7:30 PM
Probable starters:
Brevin Knight PG Allen Iverson
Cuttino Mobley SG Yakhouba Diawara
Ruben Patterson SF Carmelo Anthony
Tim Thomas PF Kenyon Martin
Chris Kaman C Marcus Camby
NOTE:  I'm in Denver.  Turns out the Nuggets are playing the Clippers in LA.  Dopey me.  Actually I'm at my sister's for the Thanksgiving weekend.  As such, my previews and recaps may be a little later, a little shorter than usual. And sorry, no pretty logos.  Feel free to post recaps in the diaries if you have the chance.  I will get to see tonight's game (listening to Nuggets' announcers), but I won't see the other two.  

The Big Picture:  

This one could get ugly.  The Nuggets have won six straight by an average of 20 points.  The Clippers have about nine players out, playing hurt, or 38 years old.  At least Kaman is really good, and not hurt. But Chris has not traditionally played well against Camby (and conversely Camby has played really well against the Clippers). A couple seasons ago, the Clippers owned the Nuggets - frustrating Anthony to the point where he received multiple technical fouls and a couple of key ejections. But now there are two guys to shut down, not just one. And the Clippers simply don't have the guns to score on the other end. The Nuggets play well with a lead. Like I said, it could get ugly.

The Antagonist:  

The Nuggets are an enigma. After acquiring Iverson last December, they played medicore basketball for several months and were a game under .500 at the end of March. A white hot April of 10-1 got them into the playoffs where they won game one in San Antonio - and promptly lost 4 straight. This seems to be a pattern with the George Karl Nuggets, even before they added Iverson. They are either really good, or really bad. Nothing in between. It's still not clear whether Iverson and Anthony are a good combination for the long run. There's plenty of offensive talent there - but they Nuggets don't play much defense, and if they're not able to get out and run, the question is, who gets the ball - AI or Melo? And will the other guy be happy?

The Subplots

  • How many players will the Clippers have? Maggette is out. Mobley, Ross and Thornton are game time decisions. That leaves Ruben Patterson playing 48 minutes at the three and Dan Dickau playing a lot of two. Did I mention this could get ugly?

  • Kaman versus Camby. Two of the best rebounders and shot blockers - in fact, Camby is currently leading the league in both categories - while Kaman is the better offensive player. But Camby has given him plenty of trouble in the past. This is another great challenge (after Ben Wallace) in Kaman's development into a go to player. Unfortunately, with no help around him, it may be an unfair test. The Nuggets will be able to swarm the post with impunity. Still, how he handles this will tell us a lot about Kaman.

  • How do you defend AI and Anthony? This question becomes significantly more difficult with Ross and Mobley doubtful. Ross would be one of the bodies on each of the superstars, and Mobley has done well on Anthony in the past. Without those guys, you're basically down to Brevin Knight on Iverso and Patterson on Anthony - and the offense is going nowhere with those two on the floor together. If Cassell or Dickau have to spend any time on AI, forget it.

  • Can someone step up? Depending on the state of the banged up players, Josh Powell, Dan Dickau, Paul Davis and/or Aaron Williams could all get significant minutes in this game. It's a chance to break into the regular rotation for the player or players who perform well. Powell in particular needs to have a decent outing - he's been awful as a Clipper so far, including in pre-season.
  • Fuqazi you! Tim Thomas and Kenyon Martin have not faced each other very often since they met in the Eastern Conference playoffs several years ago while Thomas was a Knick and Martin was a Net. Thomas sat out most of a season since then - Martin has missed most of two seasons with knee surgeries. Anyway, this isn't their first meeting, but it may be the first meeting with both in the starting lineup, guarding each other. Thomas proved that he's willing to give a hit last time out against Chicago (a really stupid, pointless, detrimental to the team hit, but a hit nonetheless). It could be interesting.