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Clippers vs. Warriors - Game Preview and Open Thread

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LA Clippers logo
at
Warriors logo
21-45 41-25
Staples Center
Mar. 19, 2008 - 7:30 PM
Probable starters:
Brevin Knight PG Baron Davis
Cat Mobley SG Monta Ellis
Corey Maggette SF Mickael Pietrus
Tim Thomas PF Stephen Jackson
Josh Powell C Andris Biedrins
The Big Picture:

The Clippers return home from a road trip in which they barely beat the worst team in the NBA, and then lost the next four.  They are 2-12 in their last 14 games, with an point differential of minus 15 during that span.  All 14 of those games were of course without Sam Cassell.  Nine of them were without Chris Kaman and the other five were with him on limited minutes.  Losing down the stretch of the season is fine - as long as there's no hangover going into next season.  That's the tricky part.  How do you continually lose, without becoming inured to losing - without emerging from the season as a bunch of 'losers'?  But it's pretty obvious this team, playing without their best players and without any size to speak of, has little chance of winning in any given game.  They actually show quite a bit of interest in winning - more than one might expect they would at this point.  But there's not much they can do about it.

The Antagonist:

The lack of size won't be a big problem against the Warriors.  But the lack of talent will.  The Warriors are coming off a lackluster performance in losing to the Kings last night - so expect them to be focused on avoiding a two game losing streak to the worst teams in the Division.  In the hyper-competitive West, 9 teams already have at least 40 wins, and only 8 of them will make the post season.  The Warriors currently hold that final spot, but it's pretty clear that any team that goes into a prolonged slump (even the Spurs), will be on the outside looking in.  This is not the time of the season for the Dubs to get sloppy.  They're going to come out and take it to the Tiny Generic Clippers tonight.

The Subplots

  • The Stat Battle. Corey Maggette is currently 11th in the NBA in scoring with a career best 22.4 point average.  Baron Davis is 12th at 22.3.  In fact, in the last few weeks, Maggette and Davis have been leap-frogging one another on an almost nightly basis, depending on who had a big game that night.  Davis has 5 30 point games in March - and Maggette has scored 34 in each of his last two.  Oh, and each of them can opt out of their contracts this summer - but I'm sure that has nothing to do with it.  Davis and Ellis present a match-up nightmare for the Clippers.  But Maggette tends to light up the Warriors also.  So they could both have big games tonight.
  • The Injury Story.  The Warriors have played 66 games this season.  Their top 8 players have missed a TOTAL of 21 games due to injury.  Baron Davis has played in every game, Monta Ellis, Al Harrington and Kelenna Azubuike have missed 1 each, and Stephen Jackson has missed 2 (he missed 7 others because of an NBA suspension).  I'm not even going to write down the corresponding Clipper numbers, because it's too depressing.  Maybe the silver lining is that relatively healthy seasons do happen, even for traditionally snake bitten teams.  Baron Davis has not played in all 82 games in 5 full seasons.  But he's on pace to do so this year, so maybe there's hope for the injury-prone Clippers.
  • Kaman and Thornton.  The Injury Report continues to list Kaman (lower back) and Thornton (thigh contusion) as 'Questionable.'  I don't really understand why they can't do better than that.  Kaman is not going to play - we know that.  And Thornton probably will - they listed him as 'Out' on Monday and then he played (though he did look to be hurting).  
  • It's Official.  Did anyone mention this?  Anywhere?  I'm surprised I missed it.  Last Wednesday, the Warriors won their 40th game.  Last Friday in Atlanta, the Clippers lost their 43rd game.  The Clippers have officially been eliminated from the playoff race since Friday.  Not that the team hasn't been out of playoff contention for a very long time, but it has been official for 5 days now.
  • Fazekas.  As I mentioned yesterday, Nick Fazekas has been signed for the rest of the season.  With Kaman out, it will be interesting to see how much burn he gets, and see if he looks more relaxed without the specter of playing for another 10 day contract hanging over his head.  The speed of the Warriors may not be the opponent where he'll shine, but you never know.
  • Q&A on GSoM.  I answered some questions for the crew at Golden State of Mind.  Head over there to check it out.  We didn't have time to get a Q&A from them this time around, but they owe us for the final meeting on 4/12.