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Clippers at Nuggets - Game Preview and Open Thread

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LA Clippers logo
vs.
Nuggets logo
19-36 34-23
Pepsi Center
Feb. 29, 2008 - 7:30 PM
Probable starters:
Brevin Knight PG Anthony Carter
Cat Mobley SG Allen Iverson
Corey Maggette SF Carmelo Anthony
Tim Thomas PF Kenyon Martin
Aaron Williams C Marcus Camby
The Big Picture:

The post-Sam Cassell era begins tonight for the Clippers.  Of course, it actually began with the Utah game, since Sam has missed the last four, but you get the idea.  With 1 point in 48 minutes Wednesday, Brevin Knight and Dan Dickau are not making me real optimistic.  Regardless of how much gas you think Sam had in the tank, or how prone to injury he has been these last two seasons, one fact remains:  the Clippers had their best season ever when he played 78 games for them.  It was unlikely to ever happen again, and indeed it didn't.  But the possibility remains that they will not ever be as good without his productivity and swagger.  He'll certainly be missed.  As for tonight, without Cassell and likely without Kaman, the Clippers will get their doors blown off.

The Antagonist:

The Nuggets are inconsistent.  And the Clippers have had their number in recent years.  But it's almost impossible to have Q out there to play Iverson and Cat out there to play Melo, and Corey and Al out there to score.  You still have to have a point guard, and no, Cat can't do it.  (He can barely dribble.)  Playing this short-handed, the Clippers can't really field a team to be semi-competitive on ONE end of the floor; forget about competing on both ends.

The Subplots

  • Camby at free safety.  Marcus Camby is a poor on ball defender who the Nuggets like to put on a non-scoring big, and then let him roam and block shots.  If Kaman were in the lineup, he'd have to guard Tim Thomas.  With no Kaman, he'll likely be assigned to Josh Powell or Aaron Williams - and he'll basically ignore those guys.  He could block 10 shots tonight.
  • Fazekas and Murray.  There's nothing official yet, but I assume that Flip Murray will be in uniform for the Clippers tonight.  With nothing to lose and so many guys hurt, I'd love to see both of the 10 dayers get some significant burn tonight.  With Fazekas in particular, there's just no reason not to get him out there.  With no Kaman, the Clippers have close to 21 feet of bigs on the inactive list; let's see what the kid can do.  He was the WAC player of the year for three straight years!  That's WAC!
  • Pickaxe and Roll.  If you haven't done so already, check out the Q&A with Jeremy from Pickaxe and Roll.  I thought his answers were refreshingly honest about the Nuggets' situation.  He's certainly not sugar-coating their season.  The Nuggets put together the payroll and the expectations of a title-contender, but will likely squeak into the playoffs thanks only to Yao Ming's foot.  Jeremy can't be the only person in Denver who is disappointed.  (Before I get flamed by Nuggets fans, I recognize that this is a dangerous team in the playoffs.  But no one can claim that struggling for the eight seed is where the want to be.)
  • ESPN Game.  In a case of just outstanding timing, this is the second time this season the Clippers are on ESPN.  So if you want to, you can listen to the ESPN announcers, and the horrendous studio crew, trash the Clippers all night.  They'll be 'disappointing' for having only 19 wins.  They'll be 'right back in last place' despite the 'miracle playoff run'.  They'll be 'hapless' for losing Sam Cassell.  They'll probably be 'cheap' as well, despite giving Cassell close to $1M to walk away.  Thank you, no.  I'll listen to Ralph and Mike.
  • No More Buwwets.  Between the Q&A and a long post about Denver's D, I've written enough about this game.  Especially when you consider that it's pretty much a guaranteed L.