clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Random Clipper Thoughts on a Sunday Night

I'm looking forward to the game against the Warriors tomorrow night.  I won't be going out to Staples because of soccer practice (so far Clippers management has failed to take my youth soccer schedule into consideration with the game schedule, and I'll also miss the Jazz game on Saturday), but since this one is on TV I'll have it on the DVR when I get home.  In fact, it will be great fun to see the team in HD for the first time in 6 months, and to hear Milph bantering inanely (and occasionally anely).  Clipper killer Anthony Morrow scored 30 against Phoenix on a tennis court in the desert Saturday - imagine how many points he'll score playing indoors?  I recommend the Clippers find this guy on the court.  By the way, how did the best shooter in the history of the universe go undrafted?  Seriously, what is that?

The Warriors are a terrible pre-season opponent.  You go into pre-season wanting to work on your sets, and work on a bunch of 'normal' game scenarios, and here come the Warriors, throwing normal right out the window. Happily Blake Griffin may be the perfect big to throw at GSW.  He's strong enough to push Anthony Randolph around on one end, but may actually be quick enough to stay with him on the other.  Here's hoping that we get to see major minutes of those two head to head, because that could be run.

Golden State continues to be incredibly dysfunctional, even as they win pre-season games.  Stephen Jackson was suspended for two pre-season games for his behavior during the Lakers game on Friday.  (BTW, who suspends players for pre-season games?  Just like they did last season when the suspended Monta Ellis during his injury absence, they've again suspended a player when it has no impact on the team, and only costs the player money.  Hell, I'm sure Jax is perfectly happy to take a break during pre-season.)  It's early yet, but for the moment the Clippers North have surpassed the Clippers South in dysfunction.

Rotations during the Warriors game will be interesting to watch.  Against the Blazers, Chris Kaman picked up two early fouls and MDsr went to DeAndre Jordan.  I think he felt he had to go big against Greg Oden (a tough cover for Marcus Camby), plus he wanted to limit Griffin's minutes in his first game after banging his knee.  So Jordan was the call.  When Jordan also got into foul trouble, there was room for Craig Smith in the rotation, and then Griffin slid down to the three for a bit as well.  But Griffin won't play any three against the Warriors.

Assuming MDsr sticks with the same starting five, Camby will be on Randolph to start.  But as of right now, Corey Maggette is the Warriors back up power forward, and it's hard to imagine Camby (or Craig Smith for that matter) defending Maggette.  So look for Griffin to get that assignment, or possibly for Al Thornton to play the four (as he did in the first pre-season game against the Warriors).

All of this exposes the fact that the Clippers remain a bit thin on the wings.  If Ricky Davis is healthy and plays well, it goes a long way to correcting that, and Mardy Collins should also get off the bench in this game.  But the Warriors, more than any other team in the league, throw wing after wing after wing at you.  Their point guards are really wings.  Their power forwards are really wings.  Basically, everyone on their roster except Biedrins and Turiaf is a wing.  What a crazy team.  Rasual Butler had trouble defending smaller guards on Friday when the Blazers went with Jerryd Bayless at the two - he'll be pushed by the likes of either Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis if he has to defend one of them as well.

But enough about the Warriors.  How 'bout them Clippers?  There were so many nice things that happened in the Portland game, I'm really looking forward to seeing if they can be sustained.  Don't forget that Griffin, Telfair and Camby (who all played well against Portland) all missed the first game. 

Defense is the first order of business, and the Warriors present unique challenges.  They run, they take early shots, and they put shooters all over the floor.  The Clippers were active on Friday, getting 32 deflections in the game (MDsr will tell you that if you get 30+ deflections, you almost always win). 

I'd love to see a front line of Jordan and Griffin get extended run in this game.  They have the athleticism to keep up with the Warriors on defense, and the size to punish them on offense.  On the other hand, they are also young and the risk is that they could get caught up in the Warriors frenzy, leading to sloppy play and turnovers.  But what better time than pre-season to work on it?

We've been so positive about the Trailblazers game, I feel that I need to point out a few of flies in the ointment as well.

  • Oden and Przybilla KILLED the Clippers on the boards.  Biedrins has the potential to do the same.  Kaman's jump shot was going in Friday, but I'll tell you this: the single biggest identifier for Kaman 2.0 is defensive rebounding.  If he's a montster on the boards, he's focused, and if he's focused, he's a monster on the boards.
  • Early in the game, the Blazers baited the Clippers into some sloppy turnovers.  With some full court pressure, Baron found his outlet in Kaman or Camby - and with the centers leading the four on three break, the Clippers threw the ball away multiple times.  We all want the Clippers to run - but I don't think we want the Kaman or Camby running the break.  In two pre-season games, the Clippers have committed 26 and 18 turnovers.  These are not good numbers.
  • The offense was pretty stagnant in the third period.  Baron was scoreless.  The team only scored 19 points total in the quarter, and 10 of those came on mid-range jumpers from Kaman and Camby, many of them late in the shot clock.  It all had the makings of one of those terrible quarters from last season - if Kaman and Camby hadn't made some tought shots, it could have been bad.  As good as the game was overall, the third quarter was not pretty - it's just that the ugly was masked by some good shooting.
  • Rasual Butler, as the primary backup at the two, had trouble defending quick guards.  I don't think this is going to be a major issue - MDsr can play any combination of Baron, Bassy and Gordon against small backcourts during the regular season.  But it doesn't bode well for the depth issue if any of the quicker guards get injured.  I don't think Ricky Davis is an option here, thought Mardy Collins might have better luck.
  • Al Thornton's ball-stopping tendencies stood out more than usual with improved ball movement everywhere else.  It seems like this should be pretty easy to correct.  "Pass the ball, Al."  We'll see.  But I will say this for him - it is nice to have a guy that can get a shot, and have a reasonable chance to make it, deep in a shot clock when nothing else is happening.  Al can do that.

So going into Monday's game, watch for rebounding, turnovers and defense.  The rest will take care of itself.