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Clippers at Indiana - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
Conseco Fieldhouse
November 25th, 2009, 4:00 PM
Prime Ticket, 980 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis
PG T.J. Ford
Rasual Butler
SG Brandon Rush
Al Thornton
SF Danny Granger
Marcus Camby
PF Troy Murphy
Chris Kaman
C Jeff Foster


The Back Story:

First meeting of the season.  The teams split their two meetings last season, each winning on the other's floor.

The Big Picture:

The Clippers have a modest two game winning streak going, against opponents at different ends of the NBA spectrum.  After beating the Nuggets on Friday, they struggled against the one win Timberwolves on Monday.  Tonight, they try to extend their streak against an opponent that is in between.  The Pacers are 5-7.  Among the Clippers 9 losses are games against the Grizzlies and the Hornets - so they're more than capable of losing to mediocre teams.  Eric Gordon's status may play a big part in how competitive the team is.  He's missed seven games now and the team struggles mightily to score from the perimeter without him.  EJ would love to play in front of his hometown fans - he says there may be about 2000 of them for this game - but his sore hamstring may not allow him to.  He's due back soon, and listed as questionable.  He'll definitely play if he can.  Whether he plays or not, the Clippers will hope to get bounce back games from Baron Davis (1 for 10 Monday) and Chris Kaman (6 for 20, 1 fr 8 in the second half).  In fact, given the way Al Thornton has been playing lately (31 and 10 against Minnesota), the Clippers could really get on a roll if they could get everyone playing well at once.  Of course that never seems to happen for the Clippers.

The Antagonist:

The potential return of Eric Gordon for the Clippers is balanced by the potential return of Mike Dunleavy Jr. for the Pacers.  Knee injuries kept MDjr out of all but 18 games last season, and he hasn't played since early February.  He's been medically cleared to play at this point and could make his season debut tonight.  Would MDjr have extra incentive to play tonight against his dad, just like Gordon has incentive to play in his hometown? Without MDjr, yhe Pacers have been a streaky team this season - they lost three straight to open the season, then won five in a row, and have since lost four straight.  So are they going to extend their losing streak, or start a new winning streak tonight?  The Pacers are led by Danny Granger who is averaging over 24 points per game, but his efficiency is off some this season - he's shooting a career low .426 from the field.  The Pacers, true to their name, play at the second fastest pace in the league, behind only the Warriors.  Unfortunately, they don't do much with those extra possessions, being 24th in the league in effective field goal percentage (Granger has a hand in that).  Beyond Granger, and with MDjr out, the Pacers are a mishmash of youngsters showing promise (Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush, Tyler Hansborough), and veterans who are capable on any given day (T.J. Ford, Troy Murphy).  This is not a great team - but it's a dangerous team, as the Celtics found out earlier this season.

The Subplots:

  • Greetings from sunny Mexico.  I'm in Cabo with the family for Thanksgiving.  I was planning to watch the games on League Pass broadband, but found out when I got here that all the games are blacked out for my account internationally.  Ooops.  So no Clippers for me until next week.
  • Pacers on a back to back.  Indy lost in Toronto last night, so they're coming off a game with significant travel in between.  The Clippers had a day off, but obviously had to travel a lot further.  This is the first of two Eastern Conference road games for the Clippers.  They go to Detroit on Friday before returning home.
  • Granger and the three.  Danny Granger has seemingly fallen in love with the three ball - he's leading the league in three attempts at almost 9 per game.  In fact, almost half of his field goal attempts (47%) this season are from behind the arc.  He was always willing to shoot the three - but this season he's been quite the chucker, and his percentage is down below 35% after being above 40% the last two seasons.  MDsr may put Butler on Granger on the perimeter - but whoever draws the assignment will have to be alert and stay close.
  • Consistently inconsistent.  Like the Clippers, the Pacers have some games that are pretty hard to figure this season.  For one thing, they're probably not as good as that 5 game winning streak looked.  Four of the wins came against some really weak competition - the Knicks, the Nets, the Warriors and the Wizards.  But the fifth game came against the Celtics.  On the other side of the ledger, this latest losing streak includes losses to the Knicks and the Bobcats. 
  • Korolev.  No LAC game against the Pacers is complete without the prerequisite mention of the 2005 draft, in which the Clippers took Yaroslav Korolev while Granger was still on the board.  There, I mentioned it, let's move on.
  • Dahntay Jones.  Believe it or not, the Pacers' second leading scorer so far at over 17 a game is Dahntay Jones, whose career average is about 5.  The Pacers signed him as a defensive stopper on the perimeter, and he's come in and had a couple of 25 point games. 
  • Kareem's Little Brother.  There are four sets of brothers in the NBA currently.  We know that three of them play for the Suns, but two of them play for the Clippers.  In addition to the Griffin brothers (Blake and Taylor) the NBA also features the Rush brothers, Kareem and Brandon.  Kareem of course tore his ACL last week, but Brandon is now the starting shooting guard for the Pacers.
  • Kaman's scoring down.  After scoring 20 or more in 9 of the first 10 games, Chris Kaman has now had four straight below 20.  Against the Wolves, he took good shots - they just weren't falling.  Hopefully they'll go in tonight.  Although Jeff Foster is a solid defensive center, I think Kaman can face him up and use his quickness to either get to the basket or create space for his jumper.  Hibbert is crazy long, but Chris should enjoy a pretty significant strength advantage. 
  • Movie Quote: 

    I got nuthin'.  What exactly is a Pacer, anyway?  Then I tried "Indiana" and got a bunch of Indiana Jones quotes.  I like the Indiana Jones movies certainly, but it didn't really seem to fit the theme. 
  • Get the Pacers' perspective (whatever a Pacer is) at Indy Cornrows.