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Clippers at Bucks - Game Preview and Open Thread

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LA Clippers logo
vs.
Bucks logo
16-32 19-32
Bradley Center
Feb. 11, 2008 - 5:00 PM
Probable starters:
Sam Cassell PG Mo Williams
Quinton Ross SG Michael Redd
Corey Maggette SF Desmond Mason
Al Thornton PF Charlie Villanueva
Chris Kaman C Andrew Bogut
The Big Picture:

After winning in Toronto (an unlikely win on the road against a good team), the Clippers played easily their worst game of the season in Philadelphia.  Yes, it was the second game of a back to back.  Yes, it was game 6 of a 7 game road trip.  And yes, the Clippers looked awful.  Can they pull themselves together and come up with a better performance in the trip finale in Milwaukee, or will they mail this one in and take the consolation prize of a trip back to sunny SoCal?  Tim Thomas will probably sit out to rest his spasm-y back and this is definitely a game where they could use him.  Taking any player capable of scoring hurts the Generic Clippers to be sure, but Milwaukee goes BIG at the power forward - Yi Jianlian is at least 6'11" and his backup, Charlie Villanueva, is 6'11" as well.  Al Thornton will have his hands full if he has to play the 4; Josh Powell may have to get a lot of minutes to counteract the length of the Bucks.  One thing is certain - Chris Kaman will have to come out of his slump or it will be a 2-5 trip; not unexpected in this disappointing, injury-riddled season, but a rough trip.  The bright spot for the Clippers lately has been Corey Maggette, who is averaging close to 25 points per game in 2008 while shooting over 56% from the field and making more than half of his three pointers.

The Antagonist:

Yi suffered a recent shoulder injury and missed three games.  He returned on Saturday, but came off the bench for the first time in his NBA career in favor of Villanueva (no official reaction so far from the Chinese embassy).  Maybe Larry Krystowiak is working him back in slowly, or maybe he wants Villanueva's productivity, especially given that Yi has hit the Rookie Great Wall.  Yi hasn't scored in double figures since Jan. 19.  The Bucks meanwhile are 4-12 in their last 16 games.  (The Clippers in contrast are a smoking-hot 6-10).  Of course, in the Eastern Conference the Bucks 19-32 record leaves them only 3 games out of the playoffs.  Michael Redd leads the Bucks in scoring at almost 23 points per game, seventh best in the league.  For more on the Bucks check out the Q&A I did with BrewHoop, or better yet, mosey on over to BrewHoop and get immersed.

The Subplots

  • Sign up for League Pass. This is another game not on LA TV, though the Milwaukee broadcast is on League Pass.  If you've got the right satellite, I'm sure you can find a Chinese language broadcast as well.  There's one more of these this season (March 28 at Utah).  Even if I wasn't going to be at Disneyland (ClipperMax and ClipperZoe are both February babies) I don't think I could face another Legends experience so soon after the misery that was the Sixers game.  Or you can just listen to Ralph and Mike on AM 710.
  • Now I REALLY miss Kaman.  Go back and read what I said about Kaman in the preview of the Sixers game.  Now look at the box score.  In the words of Sam Dalembert, "Qui est payée trop maintenant, Monsieur ClipperSteve"?  (They speak French in Haiti, right?)  Prior to Saturday, K2's season low in scoring was 9 points.  He scored 4 on 2 for 10 shooting.  Dalembert rejected twice as many of his shots as he made.  As for tonight, well Bogut outplayed him in the first Bucks' game in LA.  Chris really needs to return to form and stop letting these next level centers outplay him.  Dalembert and Bogut are good players - but K2 was supposed to be entering the top tier.
  • Bad loss.  The first meeting between these two teams occurred as the Clippers wheels were coming off - of course they've been riding around on the rims for a while now, so we forget that we once held hope for this season.  In that game, the Clippers blew a 15 point lead and lost by 9.  Being swept by the Bucks would be ignominious, but it's a distinct possibility.  It's not as bad as being swept by Charlotte, I guess.
  • Anemic Bench.  MDsr usually starts Quinton Ross next to Sam Cassell in the backcourt.  When Cassell was suspended against Toronto, he started Mobley aside Brevin Knight.  Basically, Ross can help make up for Cassell's defensive shortcomings, but Knight and Ross together is an offensive disaster.  Well, in Philadelphia he went with Cassell and Mobley in the starting lineup which he has mostly avoided this season.  It's logical to start your five best players, but with so many players hurt (including Thomas still), the Clippers bench production became a complete joke.  Knight, Ross, Powell and Wlliams combined for 3 points before garbage time started.  Dan Dickau, the one guy on the bench who can shoot, doesn't get any burn.  It is what it is, and there's no real solution right now.  You have to pick your poison - if you have to play a second unit featuring Knight, Ross and Powell for extended minutes it doesn't matter who you put with them they'll struggle to score playing 2 on 5 on offense.  I assume MDsr will go with Cassell and Ross in the backcourt tonight, as he'll want Q to open the game on Redd.
  • Clipper Bucks.  The Clippers have several well-traveled veterans on their squad and most of them have called Wisconsin home at one point or another.  Cassell spent four very successful seasons in Milwaukee, and Thomas was there for parts of six seasons.  Of course you all knew that.  But did you know that Aaron Williams played 15 games there in 94-95, and Brevin Knight played 21 games for the Bucks in 03-04?  Cat Mobley is the only Clipper over 30 NOT to have played for the Bucks.