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Clippers vs. Nuggets - Game Preview and Open Thread

LA Clippers logo
Nuggets logo
0-1 0-1
Staples Center
October 31, 2008 - 7:30 PM
TV: Prime Ticket
Probable starters:
Baron Davis PG Anthony Carter
Cuttino Mobley SG Allen Iverson
Al Thornton SF Linas Kleiza
Tim Thomas PF Kenyon Martin
Chris Kaman C Nene

The Big Picture:

The Clippers play their first seven games this season against Western Conference opponents who won 50 games last year. Not exactly the best way to start the season when you're still getting to know each other. They did catch at least one break though. The Nuggets will be playing without Carmelo Anthony tonight as he finishing up his two game suspension resulting from last April's DUI. That, coupled with the fact that the Nuggets are one of the few Western Conference teams that appears to have gotten weaker, at least on paper, makes this one of the most winnable games of the first couple of weeks. Again - that's on paper. If they don't win this game, it becomes a distinct possibiilty that Baron Davis could open the season 0-7 for the second year in a row. Coming off a 38 point thrashing at the hands of the Lakers followed by a tongue-lashing from Baron in a closed-door meeting, hopefully the Clippers will at least be motivated for this game. Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that Marcus Camby will play against his former mates, eliminating a little extra motivation.

The Antagonist:

The Nuggets went into the playoffs last April with 50 wins and five guys making between from $9M to $22M annually. They came out of the playoffs the way they always do - first round losers in embarrassing fashion. Owner Stan Kroenke, after paying his $10M+ luxury tax bill, decided he could probably lose in the first round of the playoffs for less money, ordered significant cuts this summer. Which is why Marcus Camby is a Clipper. The Nuggets also got rid of 'glue guy' Edjuardo Najera. And they replaced them with the likes of Chris Andersen, Steven Hunter, Dahntay Jones and Juwan Howard (who stubbornly refuses to join the other members of the Fab Five in retirement). All of those guys are making the NBA minimum. The only thing the Nuggets spent money this off-season was re-signing JR Smith, who hasn't even proven he can stay out of George Karl's doghouse. Still, there's a lot to work with in the starting lineup. Allen Iverson remains one of the most electric players in the league, and Nene has the skills and the size to be a solid NBA big if he can stay healthy. Kenyon Martin was an all star at one time (in the East, when he had knees, but still) and Anthony is a cornerstone of USA Basketball. Don't rule the Nuggets out of the playoff chase - there's a ton of talent there.

The Subplots

  • Will Camby Play? Don't count on it. Although Marcus did go through his first full contact practice in forever on Thursday, MDsr called it highly unlikely he would play, and everyone seems to be pointing to the Monday night home game against Utah. Still, one wonders if he'll be motivated enough by the presence of his old mates to lace 'em up tonight. Maybe a 'Willis Reed' style limping entrance? I guess it's a little early in the season for those theatrics.
  • Matchups. Always an interesting subject. Iverson officially plays the two for the Nuggets, but he's a very tough cover for Mobley, who doesn't really have the lateral quickness to stay in front of him (who does?) So look for MDsr to stick Baron on AI and leave Cat on Anthony Carter.
    Al Thornton. After a mediocre debut against the Lakers, Al gets a chance to redeem himself in a favorable matchup tonight against Carmelo's backup, Linus Kleiza. Don't underestimate Kleiza - he scored 40 in a game last season. But Al has to win this matchup for the Clippers to win this game. In fact, he really needs to dominate it.
    Dr. 2.0 and Mr. Flippy. Stupid Mr. Flippy.
    Fugazi you. Every time I see Kenyon Martin, I think about the time years ago when the Knicks and Nets faced each other in the playoffs and Thomas called Martin a fugazi - a fake tough guy. They're likely to be starting opposite each other tonight.
    Run, run, run. The Nuggets played at the league's fastest pace last season. The Clippers have never been a running team, but say that they will run more this season with Baron Davis. And let's face it - the ONLY time they looked good Wednesday was when they were getting into the open court. Thornton had a very poor game, but got some easy buckets filling the lane and taking passes from Baron. One school of thought would say that you don't want to get into a shootout with the Nuggets, but I say you have to push the tempo on offense, AND make sure to get back in transition on the other end.
  • The second units. If you make it out to Staples tonight, midway through the second quarter might be a good time to go and get a slice of pizza and a beer. Because all you'll be missing is Jason Hart battling Chucky Atkins, in what is, quite frankly, the marquee matchup of the second units for these two teams. The Clippers reserves were blown out of the building by the Lakers on Wednesday. Perhaps they can actually hold the fort against the likes of Atkins, Anderson, Balkman, etc.