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Clippers vs. Portland - Game Preview and Open Thread

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season

Staples Center
January 26th, 2009, 7:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, 710 AM
Probable starters:
Fred Jones PG Sergio Rodriquez
Eric Gordon SG Brandon Roy
Ricky Davis SF Nicholas Batum
Al Thornton PF LaMarcus Aldridge
DeAndre Jordan C Greg Oden

The Back Story:

  • December 12, 2008 in Portland: Clippers 120 - Portland 112 Box Score Recap

The Big Picture:

The Clippers had 8 healthy bodies in Golden State last night, and may be in the same position against the Blazers in LA tonight. And Portland is a very good team. Of course, the Clippers did beat the Blazers back in December, in LA's best win of the season. Taking a quick look at that box score, Zach Randolph scored 38 against his former team, but of course he won't be playing. Baron Davis scored 27 and hit the game-tying three to send the game into overtime, but he won't be out there either. Marcus Camby scored 12, and led the team in rebounding with 13. He probably won't be playing either. That's 77 points from the first meeting not available for this one. I'm not sure, but I think maybe that could change the complexion of the game. Eric Gordon and Al Thornton will have to carry the scoring load again of course. So far the trend has been, if they combine for 75 points, the Clippers win. If not, they lose. Turns out, that's a lot of points for two guys to score, and it doesn't happen very often.

The Antagonist:

It's funny - I have spent a lot of time thinking about the Blazers this month, and almost none of it focused on how the team is playing. The Darius Miles situation, complete with Portland trying to claim him off waivers and stash him on the inactive list, and then sending a memo to all the other teams threatening a law suit, and everything else that went on, was just fascinating. Now that Miles has played in 10 games and his contract is back on Portland's books, we should probably point out something: the Blazers are still really, really good, with a really, really bright future. Would the future have been a little brighter with that extra cap space? Sure. But the roster is already loaded, and the team still has some cap space to use this summer. In a weird way, having Miles back on the books may end up benefiting the team. With a max salary type slot to use this summer, they might have felt compelled to swing for the fences on an acquisition. But how would a $15M player feel coming onto a team that so clearly belongs to Brandon Roy? With less space to play with, they'll only be able to look for a role player - which may be the better way to go at the end of the day. They still have Raef Lafrentz' expiring contract as a trade chip right now, so they will probably make a big move before the trade deadline. The one thing they really need is a top flight piont guard. They have a few decent ones - but they could use an upgrade. As it happens, Steve Blake is currently hurt, meaning that Nate McMillan is getting to take a look at Sergio Rodriquez and Jerryd Bayless. And of course Roy ends up sliding over and running the point during crunch time no matter who is on the floor.

The Subplots

  • Defending LaMarcus Aldridge. Even if Camby is able to play, LaMarcus Aldridge is going to be a tough assignment for someone. It's hard to play Camby and DeAndre Jordan together, since neither of them is much of a threat to score. That leaves Al Thornton to play the power forward given the fact that EVERYONE ELSE is hurt. But Aldridge is just too long and strong for Al, I fear. If Camby is still hurt and Skinner is still sick, they have no choice but to play Al at the four; there's just no way that Jordan and Samb are playing together before garbage time (which could start early tonight).
    Gordon vesus Roy. I have a feeling that the game is going to get out of hand pretty quickly, but the one reason to keep watching may be the matchup between Eric Gordon and Brandon Roy. Roy will be a very tough cover for EJ, but Gordon has proven himself to be a very capable defender, even against bigger guards. Meanwhile, Gordon was the Clippers fourth option the last time these teams met and he took only 9 shots. He'll take a few more than that tonight.
    Jordan versus Oden. This matchup of rookie centers could be very interesting. Oden is 21, and look and acts like he's 40. Jordan is 20, and looks and acts like he's 16. Oden was the first overall pick in 2007, and Jordan was chosen 35th in 2008. But the thing I love about Jordan is the thing that really seems to be lacking in Oden the couple of times of watched him - Oden is just not very active. Jordan is giving away a LOT of bulk - about 35 pounds. So Oden will probably push the kid around a lot. But it will be interesting to see how he responds to the challenge. At any rate, let's hope that Oden doesn't score 42 against DJ like Andrew Bynum did.
    The Clipper bench. I don't really have anything to say here. I just thought it was funny when they showed Cheik Samb, Jason Hart and Steve Novak sitting over there during the game last night. Three guys, who are one dimensional players at best (I'm not convinced Hart even has one dimension to his game).
    How much longer? I don't really know when the Clippers start getting some bodies back. I'm hoping we'll get some updates tomorrow. Baron Davis is apparently targeting the Chicago game on Wednesday. Zach can't be too far from returning at this point.
    Superstar for one game. Let's go with Sergio Rodriquez. He's a foreign point guard - he can pull a 'Beno' on us
    Get the Blazers perspective at Blazers Edge.