|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|8-30 ||20-22 |
|January 17th, 2009, 7:30 PM|
|FSN Prime Ticket|
|Mardy Collins||PG||Luke Ridnour|
|Eric Gordon||SG||Michael Redd|
|Al Thornton||SF||Richard Jefferson|
|Brian Skinner||PF||Luc Richard Mbah a Moute|
|Marcus Camby||C||Dan Gadzuric|
The Back Story:
The Big Picture:
It feels like a month since the Clippers have won a game. Of course, that's an exaggeration - it's only been 28 days. It'll be a month if they lose this one. The losing streak started 28 days ago in Wisconsin - the Debacle in Milwaukle. The Clippers had many more horses in that game than they will tonight. They had Zach Randolph coming off four 30 point games out of five. They had Baron Davis, shooting 36% but the team's floor leader nonetheless. And yet the lost by 34 in a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate. So one can only imagine what the Bucks will do to this version of the Clippers. The Clippers catch a couple of breaks in this game. For one, former number 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut is back in Milwaukee resting a sore back (you'd think he would have come with the team on their west coast swing just for the weather). For another, the Bucks played last night in Sacramento, while the Clippers haven't played since Wednesday. But LA will have to play much better than they did in that game if they want to end their losing streak shy of a month.
The Bucks are a bit of an enigma right now - at least to me. They're a couple games under .500, but if the playoffs started today, they'd squeak into the 8th and final spot in the east. But their plus 0.7 differential is better than several teams with better records - better than Detroit; better than Miami. It tells you that the Bucks have been losing some close games, and winning some blowouts (like for instance by 34 against the Clippers). Indeed, their last 3 losses were by 10 points combined. The Bucks underwent some pretty significant changes this off-season - losing Mo Williams and Yi Jianlin, adding Richard Jefferson and Luke Ridnour. But since Michael Redd returned from an early season injury, they're 13-11. Not exactly burning up the league, but better than most people expected. Leading scorer Redd's is averaging less than 21 a game - way down from the 26.7 he put up a couple seasons ago. But that's partly because Milwaukee is no longer a one man team - Jefferson is a terrific scorer in his own right. Not having Bogut is going to hurt. Redd can still score in bunches, and he put up 44 in their win over the Kings last night. The Bucks may slide Charlie Villanueva into the starting lineup next to Dan Gadzuric in order to get a little more offense from the front court in the absence of Bogut.
- 8 wins - still. When I started writing this preview, I cut-and-pasted the one from the last Milwaukee game (so I wouldn't have to redo the logos, change starting lineups, etc.) The Clippers' record was 8-18. So lucky me, I didn't even have to change the win column, lo these 28 days later. That's a real time-saver.
Speaking of 8 wins. Guess who won games Friday night? That would be both the Wizards and the Thunder, who each ran their win total to 8 on the season. That means that for now the Clippers are tied for fewest wins in the entire NBA. And by the way, the Thunder are 5-5 in their last 10. I've been saying that the Clippers will win too many games when they're healthy to be seriously thinking about great lottery position. But it doesn't feel that way right now, does it?
Thornton and Gordon. With the current roster, Al Thornton and Eric Gordon both have to have strong games for the Clippers to win - there simply aren't enough other scorers out there. Unfortunately, it hasn't really been happening. It seems like when Thornton has been on (as he has the last couple of games), Gordon has been off (his jumper went missing for those same two games).
Seeing Redd. I haven't seen enough of the Bucks to know if the last game was a complete anomaly or what. In that game, they beat the Clippers every which way, and their running game looked like a page from D'Antoni. But that doesn't really seem like Scott Skiles to me, and their actually 15th - smack dab in the middle of the league - in pace. So I'm leaning towards fluke on that first game. So I'll go with the conventional wisdom with this one, and say that the key will be stopping Michael Redd. I'm not sure who's going to draw that assignment - Gordon or Mardy Collins.
- The book on Collins. The scouting report on Mardy Collins when he joined the Clippers was 'Good defender, terrible shooter.' Well, I'm seeing the complete opposite. He's very long for his position, and he does get some deflections, but he's really quite incapable of keeping his man in front of him. He gets beat like a drum on the perimeter. But on the other end, he's been using his size advantage against opposing point guards to good advantage in the post, and he's even made 9 of 20 threes as a Clipper. He would seem to be winning the back up point guard job after Baron Davis returns.
- Oregon Ducks. Luke Ridnour and Fred Jones were teammates on a very good Oregon Ducks team a few years back. The third key member of that team, Luke Jackson, played on a 10 day contract with the Clippers last season. Apropos to nothing.
- Superstar for one game. I went with Ramon Sessions last time, and I'm going with him again. Why not?
Get the Bucks perspective at Brew Hoop.