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Clippers vs. Grizzlies - Game Preview and Open Thread

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The Big Picture:

(BTW, I'm pretty much using this preview to catch up on all the things I didn't do today and yesterday, so check out the bullets for a pot pouri of posty goodness.)  

This is a dilemma.  The losing streak is at 10, and no one really wants it to go to 11.  But Memphis is only two games behind the Clippers in the standings.  A quality loss here is worth three games - it's another loss for the Clippers, a win for the Grizz, and evens the season series at 2 for tie-breaker purposes.  It's pretty easy to pull off also - just play the 'Kaman can't go in back-to-backs' card.  Maybe Maggette needs to rest his knees tonight also.  It wouldn't surprise me at all.  The Clippers and Grizzlies of course have a grand tradition of tanking.  Two Aprils ago, the Clippers tanked their way to a first round matchup with the Nuggets, avoiding the Mavs and punching their ticket to the Conference Semis.  Tanking against the Grizzlies has been very, very good to the Clippers.

The Antagonist:

After tanking their way to the NBA's worst record last season, the Grizzlies are behaving very strangely this March - they've won 4 of their last 7, including a road win over the Lakers last night in Staples Center.  Memphis has already passed Seattle in the standings, the Knicks are next on their list, and the Clippers could be next after that.  That could cost them a whole lot of ping pong balls in May, but after dropping to 4th in the last draft despite having the worst record, maybe they've decided that a little self-respect is more important.  We'll see who can live with themselves tomorrow morning.  The really strange thing about the Pau Gasol trade is this - with Rudy Gay at small forward, and Mike Miller at shooting guard, and a good young point guard in Mike Conley, the Grizz may be only one player away from being very good next season - say, like, a really skilled big man.  Like, I dunno, Pau Gasol.

The Subplots

  • Tim Thomas - I didn't listen to the game last night, so I was wondering if there was a reason that Tim Thomas only played 10 minutes.    Averaging 31 minutes on the season, if he was healthy last night, 10 minutes would be a massive departure for MDsr.  Then I read read that Thomas had a sore Achilles; it was probably too much to hope that the coach had caught on that he wasn't helping much.  Thomas is doubtful for tonight, so maybe some of those minutes can go to Marcus Williams.
  • Speaking of Utah - No TV, I listened to only a few minutes, so I don't have much insight into that game.  Looking at the box score, you have to wonder how anyone can get blown out while shooting 51%.  But you don't have to wonder for long, when you look at the rebounding, and the fact that Utah shoot 58%.  58% shooting and 17 offensive rebounds basically means that Utah scored on over two-thirds of their possessions in the game.  That's just ridiculous.  When Kaman was out, the Clippers had an excuse for getting beaten on the boards.  But with a starting front line of Kaman and Powell, to give up 17 offensive rebounds while collecting 22 defensive rebounds is a travesty.  Tanking is one thing, but have some self-respect.
  • Good-bye Aaron Williams.  I've been recommending that the Clippers waive Aaron Williams since before training camp.  So it only took the Clippers six months to figure that out.  Aaron Williams is (was) a fine veteran big in the NBA.  But the Clippers had no use for one of those, really.  The fact that he was essentially unable to play whenever they really needed him (the press releasesays 19 games lost to injury, but we know it was a lot more than that) just makes the mistake more painful.  So better late than never, and the good news is Marcus Williams is a great pick up.  I don't know if he's going to get a chance to play given that he's at the same position as Maggette and Thornton, but we're talking about arguably the best player in the Pac-10 last year.