I don't think I offended my friend Robby (aka Citizen Timmy T) enough when I harped on the Pistons' favorable treatment from the refs and/or the incredibly annoying Pistons fans at Staples last week, so naturally I have decided to spend a good portion of my Clippers-Bulls preview bashing Ben Wallace.
The Clippers, you may recall, beat the Bulls in January in a game that Ben sat out with a sore knee. Ben remains a terrific defender, and he can help contain Elton Brand, which is important considering that EB went for 26 in the last meeting. Oh, and don't forget the way Elton lit up Sweetney for the couple minutes the Bulls tried that. So the combination of PJ Brown and Ben Wallace will help with their interior defense.
And if Chris Kaman doesn't play better than he did the last time it could be a long night for the Clippers. If Brown and Wallace only have to worry about Elton, that's one thing. But those guys give away about 4 inches each to Kaman. He needs to be a threat as well, which will in turn take the heat off of EB.
Where Wallace doesn't help the Bulls is on offense. The Bulls complete lack of a low post scoring threat has been on display throughout the season, but perhaps never more prominently than when they tried to post Brown against Elton on a crucial fourth quarter possession in that first game. Elton calmly blocked the shot, and the Clippers iced the game. Without a low post threat, the Bulls are a limited team, no matter how good their perimeter players are, no matter how good their defense is.
Which is why the Wallace signing is so very head-scratchingly strange. They dumped Tyson Chandler because they thought he was overpaid (never mind that they were the ones that paid him) and then turned around and paid MORE for Wallace. Surely I'm not the only one who has noticed that Chandler's averages of 12.4 rebounds and 9 points are better than Wallace's 10.5 and 6.5 this season. And 62.1% shooting is exactly what an athletic though offensively-limited rebounding machine should give you. How can Ben Wallace POSSIBLY shoot 45% when the only shot he should ever take is a dunk?
OK, enough Ben-bashing. Back to the game. The best player for the Clippers in the first game was Shaun Livingston. Without him, the Clippers have one fewer perimeter defender to throw at all of the Bulls wings, and none that can also run the offense. Sam Cassell is also going to be miss this game because of back spasms. The Clippers are going to be hard-pressed to win without effective point guard play.
FWIW, I'm going to swing by the viewing party at the 6740 in Whittier, at least for a while. If you're there, look for me. I'll be wearing my ClipsNation T-Shirt.