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Clippers vs. Indiana - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
December 5th, 2009, 7:30 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 Roy Hibbert


The Back Story:

November 25 in Indianapolis, Indiana 86 - Clippers 73 -  Recap  Box Score

The Big Picture:

It goes without saying that readers of a Clippers blog are more than a little too wrapped up in the whole fandom thing.  But while we all tend to ride the ups and downs of the team, these last two games have been particularly manic.  When the Clippers went on a 22-0 run at the end of the Memphis game, suddenly we were all convinced that everything was coming together.  After all, the team had won four out of five, Eric Gordon was back, and Blake Griffin would be back soon.  Ooops.  Gordon strained his hamstring during the big comeback, sat out the next game, and is questionable tonight.  Then the day of the Rockets game, MDsr casually mentioned that Griffin would likely be out until at least 2010.  As for the game itself, if a 22-0 run to close a game makes you believe your team is good, a 0-16 run sort of has the opposite affect.  The reality of course is that the Clippers are neither as good as they looked at the end against the Grizzlies, nor as bad as they looked at the end against the Rockets.  It's strange we got so excited after the Grizzlies game at all - I mean, who were those guys playing in the first three quarters?  Same team right?  It's not particularly logical to think that 4 minutes of inspired basketball could eliminate all the issues that made them look like crap for long stretches of most games.  So of course it didn't.  Still, at least we know they're CAPABLE of playing well (at least with Gordon).  Is that a good thing, or does it just make us all the more frustrated when they come out flat yet again?  As for tonight's game, if Gordon can't go it doesn't bode well for the team.  Chris Kaman has had one great game and four horror shows in his last five games, the worst of the bunch being a 3 for 19 outing the last time these two teams met 10 days ago.  In fact, Baron Davis, the Clippers most consistent player this season outside of Gordon, was the only LA player who bothered to show up in Indianapolis.  Kaman 3 for 19, Al Thornton 2 for 15, Rasual Butler 0 points in 27 minutes - I'd say all of these guys are due to have big games, as the odds are against them being this bad again.  But who knows?  One thing is for sure - we could use some good news tonight.  At least the Clippers should have some extra incentive tonight, looking to avenge what was MDsr termed 'an awful loss'.

The Antagonist:

Funny story.  The Pacers have lost 8 of their last 9 games.  They are struggling as much as any team in the league right now.  Even the Wolves and the Nets have wins this week, but not the Pacers.  So guess the one team the Pacers managed to beat in the last 16 days.  Go on guess.  That would be the Clippers.  And not only did the Pacers win - they won by 13... and dominated the fourth quarter... without their leading scorer in the lineup.  Ladies and gentleman, your 2009-2010 Los Angeles Clippers!  Danny Granger sat out the game against the Clippers, but he's back, and he's averaging 25 points a game.  The Pacers also have Mike Dunleavy Jr., son of the coach of course, back from a prolonged absence with a knee injury.  (I think he came back ahead of schedule - wouldn't that be nice.)  When fully healthy, Granger and MDjr are the Pacers two best players - and the Clippers lost to them when neither of them played, so maybe we should be too optimistic with both of them back.  In the first game, Troy Murphy hurt the Clippers, hitting a couple of crucial threes in the fourth, and scoring 18 points.  But overall, let's hope for the fans that this is just a better game than the first one, in which the Pacers shot 38% and the Clippers shot 32%.  Yuck.  

The Subplots:

  • Tired team.  The Pacers are on the last night of a four game Western trip and are winless so far.  They lost last night in Utah, and stand to be very tired.  Tired team, one win in their last nine games, back to back... the Clippers should have this one.  That's what worries me.
  • Gordon.  I really don't know if Gordon is going to play in this game.  I hope he does.  The Clippers really need him.  He tested the hammie before the Rockets game before deciding.  He must be close to returning, right?
  • Baron and T.J.  I didn't see the first game, but apparently Baron Davis and T.J. Ford got tangled up a couple of times, and were none too happy with one another.  Baron channeled his anger into a couple of quick baskets that kept the Clippers in the game for awhile in the fourth, but in the end he just didn't get enough help.  It will be interesting to watch the matchup between the two tonight to see what happens.
  • Granger and the three.  (I'm recycling this bullet, since Granger didn't play in the first game.)  Danny Granger has seemingly fallen in love with the three ball - he's leading the league in three attempts at almost 9 per game (a stunning 8.9).  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 to 37% after being above 40% the last two seasons (he made 5 of 11 a couple nights ago in Sacramento which helped his percentage).  MDsr may put Butler on Granger on the perimeter - but whoever draws the assignment will have to be alert and stay close.
  • Junior versus Senior.  Since he came into the league, Mike Dunleavy Jr. has faced his father's Clippers 17 times.  The son has not fared particularly well, winning only six of the meetings.  However, he has done better recently winning three of the last five.
  • What to do with Kaman?  When these two teams met 10 days ago, I had a bullet about Kaman's scoring being off.  Since that game, he's made 22 out of 58 field goals, and half of those came in one game against Detroit.  Basically, aside from the Detroit game, he's been sub-terrible, and it's amazing that the team has won at all as badly as he has played.  He needs to redeem himself against the Pacers tonight.
  • Pacers pace.  When you think of teams that play at a high pace, you think of the Warriors, the Nuggets, the Suns and the Knicks.  But as it happens, the Pacers actually play at the second fastest pace in the league, behind only Golden State.  The Clippers will need to pick up people in transition and limit Indiana's easy buckets. 
  • Movie Quote: 

    I still got nuthin'. 
  • Get the Pacers' perspective (whatever a Pacer is) at Indy Cornrows.