The Back Story:
- First meeting of the season. The teams split the season series last year, each team winning at home.
The Big Picture:
Well, it's really getting tough now. The worst record in the NBA, a seven game losing streak, and three straight losses against some of the bottom feeders of the league. Two of the last three losses have been on the final possession of regulation. The Clippers have been starting a team of youngsters, three rookies and the oldest player is 22, and it's great that these guys are getting experience. But one wonders what all the losing is doing to their spirit. It's got to be hard to take, particularly when you get so close but can't close the deal. The good news is that the young guns have talent. Eric Gordon is averaging close to 24 on the season, and over 26 in the month of November (not coincidentally that's since Baron Davis left the lineup, making Gordon indisputably 'the man'). He moved up to seventh in the NBA in scoring after last night. Griffin is up to 17 points and 11 rebounds per game, and has recorded double doubles in half of his dozen pro games. Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu are playing incredibly well, especially considering their youth and how far they've progressed since summer league. But the defense has been terrible, as teams are lighting up the Clippers, and the wins just aren't coming.
Indiana is one of those teams I don't know a lot about. I mean, it's Indiana people. I know they're 4-5. I know they had a huge game against Denver recently, in which they made 20 consecutive shots in the third quarter and scored 54 points. Their other three wins aren't particularly impressive - Charlotte, Philly and Houston - but the Clippers should be so lucky as to have three unimpressive wins. The Pacers leading scorer is of course Danny Granger. As everyone knows by now and we've discussed ad nauseum, the Clippers could have drafted Granger in 2005, but instead drafted Yaroslav Korolev, in what might be characterized as a poor decision. Granger is averaging 22 points per game, and shooting career high percentages. Helping Granger this season is Roy Hibbert, who is enjoying a break out season, averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and almost 3 blocks per game, which are all nearly double his career averages. Darren Collison has played well since arriving this summer from New Orleans, but unfortunately for the Pacers Collison twisted an ankle the other night and is doubtful for this game. Tyler Hansbrough is also doubtful with a sore ankle.
- An Idea (Not directly related to this preview, sorry). I've been toying with an idea. We need a 'go to' resource among the citizens of Clips Nation for all the other teams. Among the regulars on the site, surely there are fans of the other 29 teams. Like for instance citizen ClipCat is our Bobcats expert. I know we have Hoosiers in the house (some who adopted the Clippers because of Eric Gordon). Anyway, if you're got a team that you follow pretty closely among the other 29, let me know in the comments. Specifically, if there's a Knicks fan out there, I'd love to get you involved for Saturday's preview. Let me know.
- Indy Homecoming for Eric Gordon. Clippers leading scorer Eric Gordon was born and raised in Indianapolis, played high school ball there, and spent one year in Bloomington at Indiana University. He has not fared particularly well in his trips back to Indiana however - last year he scored a season low six points in his trip home, and the year before that he had 15. He's playing well right now, so maybe he'll finally have a big game in front of his hometown crowd.
- Back to back. The Clippers task of ending their losing streak won't be made any easier by the fact that they're playing the second night of a road back to back. Minneapolis to Indianapolis is 500 miles, and they'll also lose an hour. That's not an easy back to back.
- Griffin versus McRoberts. No offense to Josh McRoberts, but I'm having trouble seeing him as a starting power forward in the NBA. Surely Blake Griffin is going to destroy this guy, right? Maybe I'm being a little hard on McRoberts, but something about Duke power forwards really pisses me off - I wonder why that is?
- Gordon and Granger. Team USA's roster had 12 players on it, and it seems like the Clippers have seen a bunch of them already this season. Curry, Durant and Westbrook, Chandler, Billups, Love. Tonight, it's Danny Granger, who was pretty much the 12th man on that team. So here's my question - when Gordon sees Granger before the game, does he treat him like a scrub? "Hey scrub, come shag some balls for me." Probably not, but it would be pretty funny if he did.
- Aminu on Granger. Assuming Vinny Del Negro sticks with Aminu in the starting lineup, his defense on Granger will be a key to the game. Michael Beasley lit up any small forward that tried to guard him last night - Aminu will have his hands full again tonight. Granger has a complete offensive game - he can shoot with range, and he can take the ball to the basket. He'll be a major challenge for the rookie, and don't be surprised if VDN goes to Ryan Gomes early.
- Gordon vs. Dunleavy. Mike Dunleavy is a lot taller than Eric Gordon, but Gordon is a lot quicker and stronger than Dunleavy. I think I know who I'm taking in this matchup.
- The Collison trade. The Pacers made a bold trade in the off-season, participating in a multi team deal that landed them Darren Collison as Troy Murphy went to New Jersey. Collison had a very good rookie season filling in for Chris Paul in New Orleans, but it was still unclear that he was ready to be the full time starter for the Pacers. Turns out, he's done fine, averaging 15 points and 4 assists. I'd like to see the matchup between Collison and Eric Bledsoe, but it will probably have to wait until the Pacers come to LA as Collison is probably going to miss this game.
- Apolis. The Clippers played yesterday against a team named for a state (Minnesota) in a city ending in apolis (Minneapolis). Today, they play a team named for a state (Indiana) in a city ending in apolis (Indianapolis). Coincidence? Yes, coincidence.
- Paul George. This will be our first look this season at Paul George, one of the small forwards taken in the June draft, and one of the alternatives to Al-Farouq Aminu the Clippers considered. Aminu went to LA with the 8th pick, George to the Pacers with the 10th. So far it looks like the Clippers made the right choice, as AFA's numbers are better than George's across the board, but especially (and perhaps surprisingly) in shooting percentages (45% to 38% percent overall). Just as AFA has broken into the Clippers starting lineup, George has fallen completely out of Jim O'Brien's rotation, getting DNPs in the Pacers last three games. So maybe this won't be our first look at the guy after all.
- Superstar for one game: Josh McRoberts. I don't really believe this, but it would be just like the reverse mojo if McRoberts went off on Griffin. This way, I've got the double reverse mojo going on.
Indianapolis is the largest city in the United States not on a navigable waterway.
- Get the Pacers perspective at Indy Cornrows.