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Clippers at Minnesota - Game Preview and Open Thread

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Lac1_70_medium
vs
Min_70_medium

3-16 4-14
Target Center
December 6, 2008 - 5:00 PM
TV: FSN West
Probable starters:
Baron Davis PG Randy Foye
Eric Gordon SG Mike Miller
Al Thornton SF Ryan Gomes
Zach Randolph PF Kevin Love
Marcus Camby C Al Jefferson

The Big Picture:

For the second consecutive night, the Clippers face an opponent with a 4-14 record. Which saves this old blogger valuable seconds updating records in the game preview. Of course, it doesn't much matter who the Clippers face - they've demonstrated the ability to lose to pretty much anybody. The team has been particularly bad against the lesser teams this season. They have 3 losses in 4 games against the bottom third of the Western Conference. In all 4 games, they looked completely lifeless out of the gate. I think we expected them in each game to wake up and start playing at some point, which is what happened in the Oklahoma City game. But against the Kings, the Warriors and last night in Memphis, they just never woke up. And this season is beginning to feel like a bad dream that I want to wake up from. Zach Randolph has been over 20 in all four games he's started in his Clipper career and he continues to be a bright spot. But the team's defense and rebounding have been abysmal. It will be interesting to see how they come out in this one. Do they have any pride? Or can we stick a fork in them?

The Antagonist:

The Timberwolves were on the other end of the big draft day trade that sent O.J. Mayo to Memphis. Based on the way Mayo played last night, they maybe should have held onto the guy. Of course, the Wolves did get Kevin Love and Mike Miller in the trade as well. I think Mike Miller is a terrific player, though he has no business being on a rebuilding team. Miller missed last night's game in New Jersey (which the Wolves lost by 29!) with a sore ankle, but he's not expected to miss much time, so he could be back for this one. Love got the start last night, but I frankly have to admit that I'm guessing in this preview about their starting lineup. Kevin Ollie has been starting lately, so apparently Randy Wittman is choosing his lineups with a Ouija board. The Wolves are led by Al Jefferson, who is one of the league's few 20-10 guys. Al's a beast, and he absolutely destroyed the Clippers last year. Of course, so did Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith and Randy Foye. That Clippers team had a way of making everyone on the opposition look really good. Kind of like this Clippers team.

The Subplots

  • 20-10. Al Jefferson and Zach Randolph are two of six players averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds this season. Which proves that having a guy on your team averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds does not automatically make you a good team.
    Love is all around. I really liked Kevin Love as a college player. He's doing well at the next level if not spectacularly well. He has had some pretty nice games lately (18 against the Nuggets, 16 against the Magic). But he's only shooting 42% on the season. I'm looking forward to watching him tonight - the conventional wisdom was that he'd have trouble with the athleticism of the NBA. We'll see. He'll likely be matched up against Z-Bo when he's in the game. Did I ever mention that I went to High School with Kevin Love's cousin?
    Superstar for one game. Following Citizen Zhiv's suggestion, I'm starting a feature in these previews where I predict what fringe NBA player will have a career night against the Clippers and be a 'Superstar for one game'. So far this season, the honor has belonged to the likes of Paul Millsap, Beno Udrih, Carl Landry, Roger Mason, Anthony Morrow and JJ Barea. You don't have to have a career high (like Udrih and Morrow), but it helps. A season high qualifies you, and you get bonus points for hitting the game winning shot like Mason and Barea. I'm going with Rashad McCants. He's a streaky shooter, and his season high right is only 18. He can shatter that with the Clippers in town. I say he makes 6 threes. Foye's a pretty good candidate too - he's been pretty hot lately, scoring over 20 in 3 of their last 7 games.
  • Back to backs. The Clippers are playing their fourth road game in five nights after a 700 mile trip from Memphis. That's a brutal schedule. If there's a bright side, it's that Minnesota also played last night, and they actually had a longer trip home from New Jersey. I guess the other good thing is that the Clippers shouldn't be too tired, since they appeared to be conserving their energy in Memphis.
  • Oh and four. I said at the beginning of this trip that 0 and 4 would be a disaster. Well, call FEMA, because at this point it's what I expect.
    Check out the Wolves perspective at Canis Hoopus and T-Wolves Blog.