The Back Story:
- First meeting of the season. Suns swept the season series last year.
The Big Picture:
The Clippers opened their season last night with a loss to the defending champion Lakers. That was to be expected. Tonight they're home against the team widely believed to be the 8th best team in the Western Conference. In other words, if the Clippers hope to be a playoff contender, despite the early season absence of Blake Griffin, this is the kind of game they need to win.
This is Phoenix' first game of the season, and it's hard to know what to expect from them. There's plenty of talent in the starting lineup, though Steve Nash and Grant
Long Hill are among the older players in the entire league at this point. Amare Stoudemire is returning from an eye injury that caused him to miss the final two months of last season. Former Clipper coach Alvin Gentry starts his first full season as the head man in Phoenix, and they intend to revive the 'seven seconds or less' days. Last February, in Gentry's first two games after replacing Terry Porter, the Suns hung 140 and 142 points on the Clippers in back to back games. So they're probably looking forward to this one. Beyond the first unit and Leandro Barbosa, the Suns don't look like much. (And a hat tip to Citizen bonkrood who reminded me that Richardson is out of this game serving a suspension, so Barbosa will likely start and the bench gets even thinner.) Goran Dragic, Lou Amundson, Jared Dudley, Alando Tucker and rookie Earl Clark are among the non-household names that sit on Phoenix' bench.
- Home opener. When the Clippers first moved into Staples Center in the early part of the decade, they weren't a great team, but they tended to have a decent home court advantage. Last season, they tied for the worst home record in the NBA, losing 30 games in LA (32, if you count the Laker games). The first order of business in being a good team is being a good home team. With a home friendly schedule in November, the Clippers could build some momentum if they can enjoy the home cooking.
- Matchups. I'm sticking with the default probable starters in the preview, but MDsr could easily go a different direction in this game. As we know, he sometimes likes to adjust his lineup to the opponent. The fact is, Amare is a tough cover for anyone on the team, but Camby is about as good a choice as any. Nonetheless, MDsr has been known to slide Al Thornton over to the four against the Suns, so don't be surprised if he plays Rasual Butler at small forward, and sticks Al on Amare.
- Baron Davis. Baron was 1 for 10 against the Lakers last night in 28 minutes on a sore foot. Will he be able to play back to back games? Will he be effective if he does? Going against his stepbrother, it would be nice to see Baron in top form, and try to punish Nash in the post some.
- Turnovers. The Clippers had a terrible time taking care of the ball in pre-season, and then turned it over 20 times against the Lakers. Playing at the Suns' frenetic pace, it could get ugly if LA gets caught up in the insanity. It's fine to play fast - we want them to play fast - but they have to be smart about it also.
- Kaman. I don't really see Channing Frye stopping Kaman in the post. I expect the Clippers to go to him early and often.
- Movie Quote:
I know that one day Veronica and I are gonna get married on top of a mountain, and there's going to be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and garlands of fresh herbs. And we will dance till the sun rises. And then our children will form a family band. And we will tour the countryside and you won't be invited.
Ron Burgundy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. You stay classy San Diego.
- Get the Suns perspective at Bright Side of the Sun.