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Clippers vs. Pacers - Game Preview and Open Thread

LA Clippers logo
Pacers logo
6-8 8-9
Staples Center
Dec. 2, 2007 - 12:30 PM
Probable starters:
Brevin Knight PG Jamaal Tinsley
Cuttino Mobley SG Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Corey Maggette SF Danny Granger
Tim Thomas PF Jermaine O'Neal
Chris Kaman C Jeff Foster
The Big Picture:  

After playing 5 consecutive games against top notch Western Conference teams (and losing the last four of them), the Clippers open their December schedule with an Eastern Conference team with a losing record.  Still, the Pacers are 8-9, and have been playing well recently, winning four of their last six.  This is the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams.  The Clippers won the first one in Indianapolis 104-89 behind a season-high 35 from Sam Cassell and a 15-22 double-double from Kaman.  At that point the Clippers were 4-0.... good times.  Since then, they are 2-8.  Let's hope a visit from the Pacers can get them back on track.  Unfortunately, Cassell is doubtful for this game.  Ooops.  There goes that game plan.  If you think this game is going to be easy, forget it.  Nothing is easy with Brand out, and Cassell and Mobley hurting.

The Antagonist:  

The Pacers, like the Clippers, have been forced to adapt to playing without their all star power forward.  The difference is, for the Pacers they seem to be really enjoying the change.  The Pacers are 5-1 in games without Jermaine O'Neal this season; 3-8 with him.  Let that sink in a little.  The guy has been their leading scorer and rebounder for 4 of the last 5 seasons...  and they have had SIGNIFICANTLY more success without him this season.  I have no explanation for this.  He actually returned from a knee injury on Friday after being out for 10 days... the Pacers lost... and he left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.  He's not expected to miss the Clippers game, which I guess is good news for the Clippers, given the season so far.  O'Neal's absence (and decline) have allowed Danny Granger (18.6 points per game) and Mike Dunleavy Sr. (16.4) to step up.

The Subplots

  • Cassell's condition.  I predicted a big night for Cassell in the first game, and he delivered.  Something about Jamaal Tinsley: he's not quite good enough on offense to hurt Cassell and send him to the bench, he's not quite big enough to guard him.  Cassell just chews Tinsley up and spits him out.  If Cassell's calf muscle is up to the challenge, he'll have another big game.  Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Cassell will play, which hurts bad.  The Clippers have really struggled on offense lately, and a healthy Cassell is probably their best matchup in this game.

  • Play Al.  Maybe I should start a petition.  Clearly Al Thornton has a lot of potential.  The great news is that he's going to be a major contributor for the Clippers at some point.  That point will inevitably arrive after he has gotten a lot of NBA minutes under his belt.  Unfortunately, those minutes have been slow in coming.  Al has only gotten 12 minutes in the last two games, the vast majority of them in garbage time against the Nuggets.  The Generic Clippers are DESPERATE for players who can create shots on offense - and Thornton appears to be just such a player.  He needs more minutes.  It seems to me they are available at the four (where Tim Thomas is far out of his element playing 34 minutes per game) or the three (sliding Maggette over to the two some more, and letting Mobley rest his groin and his elbow).

  • Speaking of Mobley's elbow.  Who knows which injury is more to blame, but clearly Cat Mobley is not in the 100% area code.  Having him play through it would be one thing if his contributions were crucial to Clipper victories.  It would be one thing if his playing time were having no impact on his long term recovery.  But this something else altogether.  Cat is not right.  He's not helping.  And he's not healing.  It's a lose-lose-lose situation to keep throwing him out there before he is ready.

  • Kaman.  Jeff Foster is a serviceable center.  He'll get some defensive boards, and he'll play adequate low post defense.  But Chris Kaman is a lot better, in a lot of ways.  Teams are beginning to double team Chris earlier and earlier.  It will be interesting to see how Indy plays it, and how Chris handles it.  Let's hope Cassell can play, because I don't know how much longer I can watch Kaman pass out of the double for a wide open Brevin Knight 15 footer.

  • No TV for you.  This game is not on TV, the first of a handful this season.  Why not?  Good question.  The Clippers broadcast partners are PRIME TICKET and KTLA 5.  KTLA is showing an episode of 'According to Jim' followed by the movie 'The American President' starring Michael Doublas and Mrs. Warren Beatty, you know, that actress.  It's a good movie.  I like the Aaron Sorkin.  Big fan of 'The West Wing'.  None of that explains why I can't watch the Clippers though.  PRIME has the USC-Kansas hoops game, which is scheduled to end at 1 PM (30 minutes after the Clippers tip off).  After that, they have some TAPED shows including something called Southern California Team Golf.  I ask you, what the hell is TEAM GOLF?  The OTHER Fox Sports channel (you know, the second channel dedicated to broadcasting LA area sports, giving them a need to fill the airwaves with 48 hours of LA sports programming every damn day) is showing a college basketball game between those great local favorites, St. John's and Miami at 1:00.  Now, I'm no program director.  But if the USC-Kansas game overlaps the first 30 minutes of the Clippers game and ENDS at 1:00, while the CRUCIAL St. John's-Miami game overlaps the rest of the Clippers game and STARTS at 1:00, couldn't you, I dunno, SHOW BOTH THE COLLEGE GAMES ON ONE OF YOUR EFFING STATIONS AND SHOW THE CLIPPERS ON THE OTHER ONE!  Too obvious?