clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Clippers @ San Antonio - Game Preview and Open Thread

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season

AT&T Center
January 8th, 2009, 5:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, 1260 AM
Probable starters:
Mardy Collins PG Tony Parker
Eric Gordon SG Roger Mason, Jr.
Al Thornton SF Michael Finley
Brian Skinner PF Tim Duncan
Marcus Camby C Matt Bonner

The Back Story:

  • November 17, 2008 in LA: San Antonio 86 - Clippers 83 Box Score Recap

The Big Picture:

Eight losses in a row and counting, the Clippers face the Spurs in San Antonio where they haven't won since Tony Parker was un petit enfant. OK, he wasn't that petit - it was seven years ago and he was a rookie of dix-neuf. But with the Clippers still missing five key players, I don't expect this to be the night where they break their Alamo losing streak. Of course, I didn't expect them to be in the game in Dallas either, and they were up by five with a couple minutes to go, so I guess anything is possible. I haven't gotten to watch a lot of Clippers basketball lately, what with vacation and no TV on the Dallas game, so I for one am looking forward to this. It will be fun to watch the new Eric Gordon, even if my expectations are pretty low for the game.

The Antagonist:

We've said it before, but this season is perhaps the best example ever. The Spurs just keep going, putting whatever spare parts they can find out on the floor with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Their fourth leading scorer and starting shooting guard started 12 NBA games in his career before joining the Spurs and he's 28. Their starting center is one of three redheads in the NBA, and the other two are Brian Scalabrine and Robert Swift, so that is not good company. And their starting small forward is 106. But they're 23-11 and winners of 8 of their last 9, because, well, they're the Spurs - they have three really good players and a system that just plugs in other guys and keeps working. By the way, it's not a coincidence that the 28 year old, the redhead and the 106 year old can all SHOOT. Still, one wonders how long this can last. In years past, they would at least bring in a Brent Barry or a Robert Horry. But they seem to have given up on Fabricio Oberto, the latest in a long line of guys they tried to use starting next to Tim Duncan. And they don't seem to have even brought in much help this time. Duncan is 32 and Ginobili is 31 (with a lot of miles on him as well). It seems likely that the days of the Spurs contending for a title with this group are coming to an end.

The Subplots:

  • Eric Gordon - Think San Antonio watched some tape of the Dallas game? Think they may be dusting off Bruce Bowen to try to slow him down? Eric found out in the fourth quarter of the Mavs game what it's like to be the main focus of an NBA defense. He better get used to it, because for the time being the formula is pretty simple - stop Eric Gordon and beat the Clippers.
    Bad matchup for Camby. MDsr will put Brian Skinner on Tim Duncan to start the game, because that's the value that Skinner adds. But that leaves Camby to defend Bonner, a 48% three point shooter. No one wants Marcus standing out at the three point line, least of all Marcus. Of course the Clippers have been playing a lot of zone lately to try to keep people out of foul trouble, and they'll probably try it tonight as well. But if they're manning up, their rotations had better be sharp, because the Spurs always have at least three shooters on the floor, and Marcus is going to be cheating off Bonner all night.
  • Speaking of the Zone. I'm sure they'll try it, since they've been playing so much of it with this short-handed roster. But it seems to me that the Spurs are going to destroy the zone. Zone defenses break down completely when teams are able to penetrate against them, and Parker and Ginobili are two of the best penetrators in the league. With Mason and Bonner and Finley spreading the floor, there will be open looks everywhere against the zone unless the Clippers execute perfectly.
    Fred Jones. As I write this there's no official announcement (UPDATE, now there is), but supposedly Fred Jones will be back with the team and ready to play in this game. According to Ramona and Lisa, the reason the Clippers turned around and waived Hassan Adams a couple hours after trading for him was because they found out that Jones was healthy enough to play tonight. That's good news for the weary muscles of Eric Gordon and Mardy Collins, who played 46 and 45 minutes respectively on Monday.
    First meeting. In the first meeting of the season, erstwhile Clipper Cat Mobley tied the game with a three pointer with 64 seconds left. But Roger Mason Jr. drained a three of his own on the Spurs final possession, and the Clippers failed to get a decent look in the final 8 seconds. Call it Number 152 in 'How to lose a close game'. The Clippers know them all. Of course, neither Parker NOR Ginobili played in that first meeting, so the Clippers essentially lost to Duncan and a bunch of non-descript guys. This time it's the Spurs at full strength and the Clippers severely depleted.
    Speaking of injuries. I watched a few minutes of Lakers-Warriors tonight - heard John Ireland talk about how bad the Lakers injury situation is - how they're missing 3 of their top 9 players. Then the game started and they featured the starting lineup they've used most of the season. Cry me a river, Ireland. Try 5 of the top 9, 3 starters and every damn point guard injured.
  • Get the Spurs perspective at Pounding the Rock.