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Clippers vs. Minnesota - Game Preview and Open Thread

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Lac1_70_medium
vs.
Min_70_medium

9-30
12-26
Staples Center
January 19th, 2009, 12:30 PM
KTLA Channel 5, 710 AM
Probable starters:
Mardy Collins PG Sebastian Telfair
Eric Gordon SG Randy Foye
Ricky Davis SF Ryan Gomes
Al Thornton PF Craig Smith
Brian Skinner C Al Jefferson

The Back Story:

  • December 6, 2008 in Milwaukee: Clippers 107 - Minnesota 84 Box Score Recap

The Big Picture:

The Clippers got the first win in 4 weeks, and indeed their first win of 2009, Saturday night against the Bucks. Unfortunately, they also probably lost Marcus Camby in the process, at least for awhile. He's listed as day-to-day after spraining his ankle in the fourth quarter, but it's hard to imagine that he or the Clippers are going to take any chances given the situation. It's clear that Marcus would like to play - he came back out of the locker room Friday in hopes of getting back out on the floor, but MDsr said no way at that time. I have to assume that he'll be given a week or two to heal. Which doesn't bode well for the Clippers. If Camby joins Kaman and Randolph in a suit on the sideline, that will be the Clippers top three big men out of action. Of course, that goes along with Baron Davis, Mike Taylor and probably Jason Hart, the Clippers top three point guards entering the season, also unable to play. At least Ricky Davis is back. I'm totally guessing above as to what MDsr might do with the starting lineup if Camby can't play. He could put DeAdre Jordan out there. He could go with Steve Novak. But Minnesota's front line is not huge, so I think he'll try Al Thornton at the 4 and give the veteran Ricky Davis the start. Just a hunch. But the simple fact is, the Clippers won't have a lot of options in the front court if Camby is indeed out.

The Antagonist:

When the Clippers won in Minneapolis back in December, the T-Wolves were a mess. I know this, because the Clippers were a mess, and they won the game by 23, their most lopsided victory of the season. That loss to the Clippers (oh and all the other hundreds of losses while he was the coach) cost Randy Wittmann his job, and GM Kevin McHale took over. And now, the Wolves are winners of 6 of their last 7, and 8 of their last 11. Of course, 7 of those 8 wins were against teams with losing records, but still, prior to this run the Wolves looked like the worst team in the NBA so even beating bad teams is a major step forward. What has changed? Hell if I know. They still look pretty beatable on paper. One difference is that McHale has pretty much benched Rashad McCants. He is going with Sebastian Telfair at the point and Randy Foye at the two guard, and Foye has been on a scoring tear, averaging over 20 points per game in the last 13. But the big Wolf remains Al Jefferson, who is once again averaging a 20/10 (22.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, to be precise).

The Subplots

  • Rodney Carney can play. Remember how Elton Brand said it wasn't about the money? Well, turns out, it was about the money. In order to get more money for Brand, Philly traded a first round pick and Calvin Booth and Rodney Carney to the Wolves. Carney has found his way into McHale's rotation recently and is a big reason that they are playing better. He's averaged 17 points per game in their last 4.
    Al Thornton, power forward. If Camby can't go, Thornton may have to play a lot of power forward in his absence. He got plenty of minutes at the four last season, with Brand and Kaman missing so much time. It's not ideal for Al; his rebounding leaves a lot to be desired. Against the Wolves, Criag Smith is undersized at the four, but he's also strong as an ox. And then there's Kevin Love. Al may enjoy a matchup advantage facing up those guys on offense, but he's going to get pushed around near the basket.
    Rebounding. With no Camby, the Clippers could get outrebounded by 20. It needs to be rebounding by committee out there, or it could get really ugly. Eric Gordon and Al Thornton in particular need to do a better job on the boards than they have been on the season.
    Defending Jefferson. Skinner may actually be the best defender the Clippers can put on Jefferson. He's got enough size and enough savvy to handle him either on the post or out to 15 feet. But Jefferson is a terrific scorer, and is going to get his points. He also has had great success against the Clippers in his career, including 28 back in December. He's going to do his part, I'm pretty sure of that.
    Team effort. The Clippers finally snapped their 12 game losing streak, which featured many losses while they were severely undermanned. Well, the situation just got worse because of Camby's ankle. They managed to beat the Bucks because guys like Brian Skinner and Mardy Collins and DeAndre Jordan all played well in the same game. And that's what will have to happen here. The Clippers have to get good games from everyone they have available in order to have a chance. They're starting at such a disadvantage, they just can't have any one come up short.
    Superstar for one game. Rodney Carney. He's been hot lately, he's young and exciting, and he's tangentially related to the Elton Brand fiasco. What better choice for this honor?
    Get the Bucks perspective a Canis Hoopus.