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Clippers @ Utah - Game Preview

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2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Clippers_medium
vs.
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19-61
47-33
Energy Solutions Arena
April 13th, 2009, 6:00 PM
KTLA Channel 5, 710 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis
PG Deron Williams
Eric Gordon
SG C.J. Miles
Fred Jones
SF Ronnie Brewer
Zach Randolph
PF Carlos Boozer
Marcus Camby
C Mehmut Okur

The Back Story:

  • November 1, 2008 in Portland - Utah 101 - Clippers 79   box score   recap
  • November 3, 2008 in Portland - Utah 89 - Clippers 73   box score   recap

The Big Picture:

It's hard to know what to expect from the Clippers tonight in Utah.  Although I didn't see the Portland game, they led in the fourth quarter against a hot team fighting for a playoff position (evidently Portland was less than inspired by the opponent).  Tonight they face a cold team sliding down the playoff matrix.  Then again, the Clippers have lost 37 of their last 38 games in the Beehive State, so an LA win tonight would be unlikely on many, many levels.  Everyone but the small forwards (Al Thornton, Mardy Collins and Ricky Davis) has been healthy enough to play in the last couple of games, although we'll see how Marcus Camby's ankle feels tonight after carrying around an extra half Mil for a couple of days.

The Antagonist:

Not the way you want to go into the playoffs.  The Jazz have dealt with a lot of key injuries this season.  Deron Williams was out at the beginning of the season (including both prior Clipper games), Carlos Boozer has missed even more than his usual amount, sitting out 45 games, and Andrei Kirilenko missed a handful.  They stayed with the big pack behind the Lakers in the Western Conference despite those injuries, and I really expected them to be one of the potential Conference Finals teams once they got healthy and picked up some momentum down the stretch.  Instead the complete opposite seems to be happening: they're as healthy as they've been at any point in the season, and they're 1-5 in April, including home losses to Minnesota and Golden State.  The damage is likely done at this point - even if they win out, either Dallas or New Orleans has to lose two straight for the Jazz to avoid a first round playoff matchup with the Lakers.  In the West this season, there are three classes of playoff teams - the Lakers, the six teams that finish next, and the poor slobs who have to face the Lakers in the first round.  It's all downhill from here for the Jazz - a terrible end of the regular season, followed most likely by a first round loss, followed by a tough off-season in which All Star Carlos Boozer is as good as gone.

The Subplots:

  • Phoning it in.  This preview is going to be even weaker than the last one.  By the way, Cabo is beautiful.
  • Long time no see.  In a really strange scheduling quirk, the Clippers and Jazz are meeting for the third time this season, but the first time in over 5 months.  And the regular season is only 5 and a half months.  They played back to back at the beginning of November in games 3 and 4 of the season, and now again in game 81 in mid April.  The last time these teams met, Cat Mobley and Tim Thomas started, a healthy Eric Gordon played 3 minutes and Zach Randolph was a Knick.  Oh, and Paul Millsap turned into Karl Malone. 
  • For what it's worth.  Among the moves that the Clippers made this off-season, the jury is out on many of them.  But the trade of Brevin Knight for Jason Hart can be pretty clearly evaluated.  Hart cost a little more than Knight right off the bat.  The fact that Knight has supplanted Ronnie Price as Deron Williams' backup (after Price took the job from Hart last season) while Hart has been waived by the Clippers tells you the rest. 
  • Defending Okur and Boozer.  These are tough matchups for the Clipper bigs.  None of them really want to run Okur off the three point line - they all like their rebounding stats and would rather hang out near the hoop.  But none of them can do much of a job on Boozer either, whose combination of skill, size and finesse is a tough cover for better defenders than Zach Randolph.
  • Tonight's very special Guest Recapper: Karen Valentine Citizen D.J. Foster.
  • Superstar for one game.  Millsap.  For old time sakes.
  • Movie Quote: 

    Jazz flute is for little fairy boys.

    Veronica Corningstone - Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004).  A Dodgeball quote followed by an Anchorman quote.  What are the odds?
  • Get the Jazz perspective at SLC Dunk.  And did you know that Jason Segel was in SLC Punk, and Jason Segel stars in I Love You, Man with Paul Rudd, and Paul Rudd was in Anchorman?  True story.