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Clippers vs. Portland - Game Preview

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
April 11th, 2009, 7:30 PM
KTLA Channel 5, 710 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis
PG Steve Blake
Eric Gordon
SG Brandon Roy
Fred Jones
SF Nicholas Batum
Zach Randolph
PF LaMarcus Aldridge
Marcus Camby
C Joel Przybilla

The Back Story:

  • December 12, 2008 in Portland - Clippers 120 - Portland 112   box score   recap
  • January 26, 2009 in LA - Portland 113 - Clippers 88   box score   recap
  • February 22, 2009 in Sacramento - Portland 116 - Clippers 87   box score   recap

The Big Picture:

The Clippers carry a one game winning streak into their matchup with the Trailblazers and the momentum is palpable.  Not really.  Beating Sacramento was nice, if only because they've been such a nemesis of the Clippers over the years.  Getting three bigs back into the lineup (Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan and unexpectedly Marcus Camby) was certainly helpful.  And tonight they'll get Zach Randolph back as well.  Randolph's presence is arguably important - he scored 38 in the Clippers unlikely overtime win against his former team in Portland, and missed each of the next two meetings.  So the Clippers are actually 1-0 against Portland with Zach in the lineup.

The Antagonist:

Portland is playing the second game of a back to back against the two LA teams, but they were in Portland last night, so they did have to travel.  Their win against the Lakers was huge - it shows they can compete in the playoffs, and it positions them to make a run at Denver for the Northwest Division title and possibly the number 2 seed in the West.  They have one game remaining against the Nuggets the last game of the season.  On the other hand, they could easily finish with the fifth seed and have to go on the road in the first round.  With three games left, one game in the loss column separates two from five in the West; it's that close.  The fact that Portland is in the mix right behind the Lakers is a monumental achievement.  This is a team that had 21 wins three seasons ago.  Wow.  Congratulations Blazers.

The Subplots:

  • Phoning it in.  This preview is going to be weak.  I'm on vacation people.
  • The Blazers - the official playoff team of Clips Nation.  Last week I went through all the Western Conference playoff teams, and it was pretty obvious that the only reasonable choice would be to root for the Blazers this post season.  The main reason can be summed up in two words:  Brandon Roy. 
  • A Kaman 2.0 sighting?  I didn't see the game, but Kaman's line against the Kings last night looked more than respectable: 14 points on 7 for 12 shooting, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 turnover in only 27 minutes.  What's the deal?  Did he lose all that extra weight when he got the flu? 
  • Eric Gordon.  Eric Gordon has three more games to build his resume for the all rookie team.  These last few games haven't hurt - 28, 24 and 20.  He didn't let that 1 for 10 game against Denver bug him long, did he?  He's now solidly in third in scoring among rookies.
  • The half million dollar game.  When Marcus Camby made a somewhat surprising appearance against the Kings last night, it was his 59th game of the season.  Maybe it shouldn't have been such a surprise, as his incentive-laden contract pays him an extra $500K if he appears in 60 games.  So when Marcus checks in tonight, that sound you hear will be a cash register cha-ching (and Donald Sterling letting out a muffled scream).
  • Leading Scorers.  Brian Skinner led the Clippers in scoring last night.  By my count, he is one of 13 different Clippers to lead the team (or tie for the lead) in scoring this season.  The only Clippers on the current roster NOT to have led the team in scoring this season are Alex Acker (whose only played in a handful of games) and Ricky Davis (who is one of the guys who arguably SHOULD have been a big scorer for the team this season).  I suppose you could argue that it's a good sign and indicates depth on the roster - but we all know it just illustrates how inconsistent a season it's been, not to mention all the injuries that have forced players into big roles at times.
  • Tonight's very special Guest Recapper: Heather Locklear Citizen bystander.
  • Superstar for one game.  Nicholas Batum.  I feel it in my bones.
  • Movie Quote: 

    Meet Fran Stalinofskivitchdavitovichsky. In her home country of Romanovia, dodgeball is the national sport and her nuclear power plant's team won the championship five years running, which makes her the deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball. Ball me, Blazer.

    White Goodman - Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).  I believe that I can safely say without fear of contradiction that Dodgeball is the greatest movie about dodgeball ever made.  It is the Citizen Kane of dodgeball movies.  And another thing - you think you've seen enough 'guy getting hit in the crotch' gags and that another one just one be funny.  And then you see another one and it's funny.  It's funny every damn time.
  • Get the Blazers perspective at Blazers Edge, where you'll find me on playoff game threads.