Although this is their first meeting this year with the Pacers, some of these guys look familiar to the Clippers. When the Clippers played the Warriors in back-to-back games January 15 and 17, Mike Dunleavy Jr, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod were Warriors for the first game, but traded away by the second one. In fact, Junior had one of his best games of the season against his dad and the Clippers, scoring 18 points while grabbing 13 rebounds and hitting 3 three pointers in the Warriors win in Oakland.
Since the blockbuster 8 player trade that sent Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson and others to the Warriors, the Pacers have been one of the hottest teams in the East at one point winning 7 of 8, although a home friendly schedule had something to do with that.
Although the Pacers were able to rid themselves of Stephen Jackson, Pacer backcourt members still can't stay out of trouble. Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Keith McLeod were involved in an incident in a bar last week (they deny any wrongdoing). Tinsley and Daniels were with Jackson, you may recall, when he went 'wild wild west' outside a strip club in October. Who knew Indianapolis was so hopping? I've never been there, but I heard it's nickname was India-no-place. RedSilvia tells me they have a nice mall.
Looking at this roster, you can certainly see why they would be expected to be a top team in the depleted Eastern Conference. All Star Jermaine O'Neal is having one of the best seasons of his career, and although he missed a game recently with a sore knee, he is expected to play against the Clippers. With Tinsley at the point, Dunleavy at the 2, second year stud Danny Granger at the 3 and Murphy at the 4, this team has some weapons. They bring Diogu and Daniels off the bench.
One theme of this road trip could be 'guys the Clippers should have taken instead of Yaroslav Korolev.' First stop was Boston and Gerald Green. Tonight it's Granger. Both Green and Granger were projected top 10 picks in the 2005 draft who slipped and were still on the board when the Clippers took Korolev at 12. Now, of course you can always play this game with hindsight. But I'm not talking about David Lee and Jason Maxiell and Joey Graham and Nate Robinson (all on this trip, all drafted after Korolev), who nobody knew would be good pros. Everybody accept MDsr knew that Green and Granger were going to be good, but he was fixated on Korolev for some reason. Green didn't have a good game against the Clippers. We'll see about Granger, who has started 25 games for the Pacers this season, and is averaging 13 points in 32 minutes per game. Korolev has played 18 minutes. This season.
Although they profess to really like Dunleavy Jr. in Indy, his numbers are pretty much the same as his Golden State averages, despite an increase in minutes. He's been about 11 points, about 5 rebounds and about 3 assists all season, and that's pretty much what he's doing for the Pacers also. In fact, that's pretty much what he's averaged every year of his career: he shot up to 13 points in 03-04. The more I look at it, the more amazed I am at the contract Chris Mullin gave the guy.
With Corey Maggette's latest antics, trade talk will undoubtedly bubble to the surface again when the Clippers get to Indianapolis. Maggette was very nearly a Pacer last February in exchange for Ron Artest, and apparently Dunleavy knows someone in the Clipper organization.
With O'Neal now playing the center, the Pacers bigs will present some matchup difficulties for the Clippers. Murphy will take his man away from the basket to the three point line, and O'Neal will work the low post. I feel center that Brand will draw O'Neal late in the game, but MDsr may start with Kaman on O'Neal to give Elton a break. On the other end, O'Neal has the length and the quickness to actually give Elton some trouble. Murphy should not be able to guard Kaman, but lately Kaman doesn't really require guarding.
In the backcourt, the Pacers don't really have the guys that create dribble penetration, so that's good news since those guys tend to shred the Clippers. Sam Cassell may actually be able to stay with Tinsley. Look for Cassell to try to post up Tinsley. He's listed at 6'3", but I bet Sammy's bigger.
Someone has really got to step up on the wing for the Clippers. Ross probably won't get many minutes in this game (he didn't play in the second half against Cleveland), as MDsr tends to simply ignore him if he doesn't have a defensive matchup where he needs him. But Mobley has been horribly inconsistent and Maggette... well who knows what's going to happen with Maggette. Shawn Livingston will probably play with Sam a lot, as Dunleavy seems to like them together, and Shawn's been playing well.
Here's the check list:
- Limit turnovers
- Find a wing who can step up
- Get the ball inside on offense
- Get Kaman going
It could be the same list every night.
This is one of the few games this season that is not being shown on local TV. It works out well for me, since I'm camping with ClipperZoe anyway. But if any citizens of ClipsNation have NBA League Pass, or if anyone happens to be in Indiana, maybe you could give us a game recap in the Diaries and let us know what we missed.