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Clippers vs. Phoenix - Game Preview and Open Thread

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season

Staples Center
January 11th, 2009, 12:30 PM
KTLA Channel 5, 710 AM
Probable starters:
Mardy Collins PG Steve Nash
Eric Gordon SG Jason Richardson
Al Thornton SF Grant Hill
Brian Skinner PF Amare Stoudemire
Marcus Camby C Shaquille O'Neal

The Back Story:

  • January 2, 2009 in Phoenix: Phoenix 106 - Clippers 98 Box Score Recap

The Big Picture:

Ten losses in a row and counting. During the first half of last night's game, which I listened to on the radio, I heard a commercial for a credit union that was offering new accounts with no fee if the Clippers won the game. Now, when you run a promotion like that, you're obviously just trying to give the impression of a prize - most NBA teams don't go more than a week without winning a game, so it's pretty obvious that they WANT new customers to come on in after a Clippers win. Too bad. Hasn't happened since Dec. 19, and not likely to happen in this game. Incidentally, the disaster that was last season, the team's longest losing streak was 10 games - if they lose this game, it will be their longest losing streak since they lost 13 straight in the spring of 2004, with Doug Overton running the point. Ah, the old days.

The Antagonist:

The Suns are 7-3 since Jason Richardson joined the team from Charlotte with the three losses being a 5 point loss at Portland against Brandon Roy's career high 52, and buzzer beaters losses to the Spurs and Pacers. In other words, they haven't really played a bad game since the trade. And judging from their dismantling of Dallas in the second half on Friday, they're playing better now than they have at any point of the season. The starting five is impressive in the extreme, even if Nash and O'Neal and Hill are starting to show their ages. The bench remains suspect - only Leandro Barbosa and Matt Barnes have NBA experience to speak of - but the starters may be good enough to overcome that perceived problem. In talking to Suns fans, the big difference is that the team is having fun playing basketball. I wonder what that's like?

The Subplots:

  • ClipperSteve is everywhere. Prior to the Jan. 2nd meeting, while I was still on vacation, I appeared on a podcast put out by Phoenix Stan from Bright Side of the Sun - a few of you were intrepid enough to find it out there. We did another one together this morning. What's interesting is, although the ostensible reason for doing them is the meeting between out two teams, we basically have ignored the games completely - with the current state of the Clippers, we both tend to agree that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It doesn't keep us from holding forth on a range of NBA topics. If you think you might enjoy listening to ClipperSteve blather on as much as I do, and you've got some time on your hands (or if you need some background noise for another activity), give a listen. I also did a Q&A with Ben's Suns Blog - his answers to my questions are posted here, my answers to his questions will be over there.
    Zone of destruction. OK, so the Spurs and Hornets are two teams fully capable of destroying a matchup zone. Guess what? So are the Suns. They don't have the three point shooting they once had, but they have Steve Nash to break things down, good spacing, and savvy vets. If Amare finds the hole at the free throw line, he and Shaq will feast on the interior of the zone in the high-low game. In short, foul trouble and other issues be damned - don't play the zone in this one. It will be a complete disaster.
    Ones and fours. The all star barrage continues. Kidd/Nowitzki, Parker/Duncan, Paul/West. Now it's time to see how Collins/Skinner matches up with Nash/Stoudemire. If you're not a citizen of ClipsNation, you may not have heard of the Collins/Skinner combination, but there's a good reason for that. It's because they're not very good.
    Injury update. There's precious little new information available on the injured Clippers. They're calling Baron Davis and Zach Randolph day-to-day, but there's no indication that this will be the day. Ricky Davis is serving the last game of his suspension, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll play against Atlanta on Wednesday, since he's barely practiced with the team in 6 weeks. Kaman is the most nebulous of all - there's just no news at all on him. I don't expect to see him until February, but I have no basis for that. Just a feeling. UPDATE: Looks like it was an accurate hunch. Lisa Dillman put a story up on the Times about the time I finished this post - MDsr is saying not to expect Kaman until after the All Star Break. Sheesh.
    All Star for one night. Given that the rules of this game require the choice to be someone unexpected and less well-known, there aren't many options on the Suns. Their starters are all stars, former all stars and near all stars. Their sixth man has been NBA sixth man of the year. And they basically play 8 guys. So that leaves Matt Barnes or Louis Amundson as the viable options. I'm picking Amundson. Why, you ask? Because he has a pony tail. That's why.
    Get the Suns perspective at Bright Side of the Sun.