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Clippers vs. Golden State - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
March 28th, 2010, 6:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, 980 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis
PG Monta Ellis
Eric Gordon
SG Stephen Curry
Rasual Butler
SF Anthony Morrow
Drew Gooden
PF Corey Maggette
Chris Kaman
C Ronny Turiaf


The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

For some reason, the NBA schedulers decided to have the Clippers play a home game against the Warriors in between games in Houston on Thursday and Milwaukee Tuesday.  Nothing like a one game home stand.  It's just another stop on the road trip this way.  I'm not going to say that the Clippers should beat the Warriors at home - they should have beaten the Kings playing without Tyreke Evans at home, and that didn't happen.  The Clippers have shown the ability in the last two months to lose to pretty much anybody, so who knows what is going to happen.  And it's not like you can guess what's going to happen in this game based on what happened in the first two meetings - the Clippers won the first one by 28 and the Warriors won the second by 30.  The last few seasons, the Clippers and Warriors have played some of the most unpredictable games imaginable.  I guess all you can do is watch and hope for the best.


The Antagonist:

Those wacky, wacky Warriors.  The have the third worst record in the NBA, and the 2nd worst road record.  They are only 4-30 on the road, and haven't won an away game since January 6th.  They've been devastated by injuries all season, with every key player missing significant time except for rookie Stephen Curry.  They'll play tonight without Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Vladimir Radmanovic - and this is as healthy as they've been in a while.  Less than a week ago they waived the injured Raja Bell.  (By the way, along with Speedy Claxton that brings to over $10M the amount in EXPIRING salary the Warriors have waived in February and March, long after their season was over.  Seems like maybe those expiring contracts might have had some value on the NBA trade market, but what do I know.)  It's a bit of a back handed compliment I suppose, but one thing the Warriors have done well the last few seaosns is find talent in the D-League.  A few seasons ago it was Azubuike, who has turned into a solid pro.  This year it is Anthony Tolliver, who scored 29 against the Clippers last time these teams met, and scored 30 last week against New Orleans.  What they can't do is play defense - 29th in the league in defensive efficiency.

The Subplots:

  • Third straight time, opponent on a back to back.  The schedule makers did the Clippers no favor with the one game stop in LA, but they are making up for it by scheduling back to backs for all of their opponents.  The last three opponents - Dallas, Houston and now the Warriors - have been on the second game of back to backs, while the Clippers were fully rested.  The Warriors lost to Dallas last night in Oakland.
  • Warriors up for sale.  As I mentioned earlier this week, the Warriors are for sale.  If a new owner hires new, more competent management, then the Warriors may cease being the Clippers-North.  It could get lonely if we no longer have an equally dysfunctional division rival.
  • Nelson chasing Wilkins.  One assumes that a new ownership group would not retain Don Nelson as head coach, and one assumes further that at age 69 Nellie would not get another job.  He currently has 1329 career wins in the NBA, second on the all time list behind Lenny Wilkins' 1332.  He needs 3 more wins to tie the record, 4 more to break it.  Seven of their final ten games are on the road, where they have the second worst record of any team in the league.  Two of the home games are against the hot Jazz and the even hotter Thunder.  It doesn't look good for Nelson, who could get REALLY close to being the winningest coach in the history of the NBA, but come up a game or two short.  At any rate, I'm guessing he's plenty motivated to win these games, thought it remains to be seen if he can get his team equally motivated.  And of course everyone looks at the Clippers on the schedule and says "We can win THAT one."
  • Kaman and Jordan.  Chris Kaman has been playing like a disinterested, tired veteran lately.  DeAndre Jordan is a 21 year old second year player, who needs more NBA game experience.  Thursday night, for the first time, Kim Hughes opted for Jordan down the stretch instead of Kaman.  I suspect that Hughes will not hesitate to yank Kaman tonight if he comes out lethargic.
  • Baron versus the Warriors.  In his first four meetings with the Warriors since coming to LA, Baron  scored 29, 25, 25 and 25.  Then in the fifth meeting, he scored 5 on 1 for 12 shooting.  Baron's been playing well over the last seven games - let's hope he goes back to having big games against his former mates.
  • Warriors whose career highs were scored against the Clippers.  It seems like everyone on the Warriors gets a career high against the Clippers.  A few seasons ago it was Azubuike.  Last year it was Anthony Morrow.  Last game it was Tolliver and Stephen Curry.  Since that game, Tolliver has bested his 29 against the Clippers with a 30 against the Hornets.  Curry's 36 remains his career high, and of course it's still his only career triple double as well.
  • Curry on a tear.  In the 19 games since scoring 36 against the Clippers, Curry has been over 30 five more times.  On the season, he's shooting over 46% from the field, and almost 43% from beyond the arc.  His effective field goal percentage of .535 is better than Eric Gordon's of .529 - and you know how much I like Eric Gordon's effective field goal percentage.  (Gordon's true shooting percentage remains better as he gets to the line more.)  I'm not sure if everyone has figured this out yet, but Curry's better than Monta Ellis already.
  • Maggette the high percentage shooter.  I'm not sure what's gotten into former Clipper Corey Maggette, but after shooting less than 46% for his career, with a single season best of .478 as a rookie in Orlando, Corey is shooting .525 this season on his way to averaging 20 points per game.  If Corey remains above 20 the rest of the way, it will be the fourth time he's averaged 20 or more in the last seven seasons.  With Zach Randolph finally breaking through and making an all star team this year, that leaves Corey and Jason Richardson as the only active players to average 20 more than once but never make an all star team.
  • Matchups.  Speaking of Maggette, the Warriors always present matchup challenges, and tonight Drew Gooden will be trying to keep Corey off the free throw line, while Rasual Butler will have to stay glued to Morrow on the perimeter while EJ and Baron chase Ellis and Curry.  On the other end, the Clipper should look to pound Maggette in the low post with Gooden, whose at least 3 inches taller than Corey.
  • Movie Quote: 

    He was the best star pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior. I understand that you've become quite a good pilot yourself.

    Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars (1977).  Anyone else get the impression that George Lucas had no clue that Darth Vader was Luke's father when he made Star Wars, and that he started madly reverse engineering the whole thing after it became a phenomenon?  The Darth thing is of course fairly minor compared to the prequel stuff in episodes 1, 2 and 3.  Why should R2 and C3PO even have been there?  Young Anakin actually built C3PO?  Really?  Why?  Isn't that a pretty big coincidence?  And then they decided to have his memory erased at the end of episode 3, which conveniently makes the fact that he never knew about any of this stuff in the original trilogy plausible.  Then again, why wouldn't Obi Wan have remembered C3PO?  Am I the only one who thinks about these things?
  • Get the Warriors perspective at Golden State of Mind.