I'm not going to bother with the full preview rigmarole; it's just a pre-season game after all. But after over eight months without a Clippers game, and given the high expectations for this team, somehow I have a feeling that this game is going to be watched by at least as many people as a regular season game.
The Clippers likely will start Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Or at any rate, those are the starters for Vinny Del Negro's team - who knows who will start and how long they will play tonight.
The Lakers starters should be Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Matt Barnes, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. New coach Mike Brown has said that he plans to bring Ronmetta WorldArtestPeace off the bench this season, putting him in the Lamar Odom role for the team.
It's strange given the shortened camp: is this the first pre-season game, or the next to last one? Of course it's both, but the bottom line is that teams are just figuring some things out, and but they've got to be arriving at rotations very, very soon.
The Clippers cleaned house a bit today, waiving several of their camp invites as well as 2010 second round pick Willie Warren. With so many combo guards on the roster, the writing was on the wall with Willie Warren (mmmm, alliteration). Renaldo Major, Blake Ahearn and Adam Koch were the others to go. The Clippers roster currently stands at 14, but two of those are Courtney Fortson and Marcus Hubbard, two more camp invites unlikely to make it to Christmas Day. Fortson is actually beyond unlikely - a 5'11" point guard has no chance of making an NBA roster with three All Star points under contract. Hubbard has the advantage of playing a position where the Clippers have a need, but one has to believe that Neil Olshey is trying to find a big with some NBA experience rather than rolling the dice with a 28 year old rookie. This may be Fortson and Hubbard's only chance to show what they can do.
The main thing to keep an eye on tonight, beyond simply "How do they look out there?" is the front court depth. Lots of different guys will play lots of minutes no doubt, but how VDN uses Brian Cook and Trey Thompkins will be important. Who is the first big off the bench? Who defends the center position when DeAndre is out of the game? Does Thompkins look ready for game action? By all accounts, Thompkins looks like a steal where the Clppers grabbed him in the second round (47th overall) but being a productive rotation player from the opening of the season may be too much to ask.
By the way, can you believe this is actually starting? It seemed like we'd never see basketball again. My DVR is making me so happy right now - I can look at the upcoming schedule and there are basketball games coming - real, live, regular season basketball games that actually count. Yay!
I'm going to assume that we're going to have a lot of comments here tonight and go ahead and schedule a second half thread. That will post at 8:45, so plan to switch over at half time.