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Clippers - Pistons Preview

Here's where things could get ugly...

The Clippers have precious few wins over quality teams this season, and most of those came during the first week.  They do have a 5 game winning streak at home against the Eastern Conference, that includes wins over Chicago and Indiana.  (Hey, I'm trying to be positive here.)  

When the Clippers and Pistons played in Detroit last month, Elton Brand sat out with back spasms, the rest of the Clippers shot 32%, and it was only a game in the official sense.  If Brand doesn't break out of his current slump, it may be the same today.  Unfortunately for Elton, his jump shot has deserted him - in the Golden State game, his four field goals consisted of two dunks, a lay up and a tip in.  He was ohfer jumpers.  If Elton Brand can't make a jumper, he becomes the relatively stoppable offense player from a few years.  The jump shot is what transformed him last season.  He needs to find it again.

Likewise, Sam Cassell is critical to the Clippers' remaining hopes this season.  If Jason Hart and Daniel Ewing are playing the majority of minutes at the point for the rest of the season, this team is done.  Cassell managed only five minutes and 0-3 when he tested his sore groin against the Warriors.

On the Pistons side, they still have one of the best starting units in the NBA, but they will be without Rasheed Wallace today, as he received his 16th technical foul of the season Friday night, earning an automatic one-game suspension.  But with Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell, the Pistons have some quality bigs to back up Sheed.

Kaman and Brand always killed Chris Webber when he was with the Kings - and certainly he's limited on the defensive end.  (In fact, Kaman was the only Clipper to play at all well in Detroit.)  Look for the Pistons to play a lot of zone to try to hide Webber, and dare the Clippers to make some jump shots.  

This is exactly the kind of team the Clippers have not been able to beat this season - or even stay in the game.  They're talented, the run efficient offensive sets, and they have talent all over the floor.  

A win would be a much needed surprise.  

A loss would extend a their current losing steak to three games, with two tough Texas games coming next.