|2010/2011 NBA Regular Season|
|February 13th, 2011, 5:00 PM|
|FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
The Back Story:
The Big Picture:
When the Clippers beat the Bucks on the last day of January a couple of weeks ago, it capped a 9-5 month, and was their ninth straight home win, a record in the Los Angeles history of the team. But with Eric Gordon hurt and the Odyssey looming, it was clear that the good times were not going to last much longer. Indeed, at the end of my recap of that win over the Bucks, I recommended that you "savor the feeling of January's record while you can, because February could be cruel." Little did I know. The Clippers are 1-6 so far in February, losing both to good teams and to bad teams, and losing in cruel manner a couple of times as well. The truth is, this is not a very good team without Eric Gordon, despite some terrific play from Baron Davis, who is averaging just over 20 points and just under 10 assists for the six games of the trip so far. Unfortunately, Baron's most glowing stretch of the season has coincided with Blake Griffin's most lackluster; not that Griffin has played poorly, but defenses have been able to focus enough attention on him that nothing is coming easily for him right now. The rest of the team has been inconsistent to bad, and the only win in February came when Randy Foye scored 17 fourth quarter points in New York. It shouldn't have to take that sort of unlikely outburst for the Clippers just to win a game, but right now it seems like it might.
For the third game in a row, the Clippers face a struggling team. First it was the Cavs, on a record 26 game losing streak. Next came the Raptors, losers of 16 out of 17. Now it's the Bucks, who've lost seven out of eight, starting with that loss in LA at the end of January. Of course all it took for Cleveland and Toronto to get a win was a nice dose of Clippers, so maybe the same medicine will work for the Bucks as well. Ironically, the current Bucks skid has happened even as the team has started getting healthy. The starting backcourt of Brandon Jennings and John Salmons have each returned to the lineup in the last couple of weeks as has Carlos Delfine, and Andrew Bogut is also back after missing a couple of games directly after the first meeting with the Clippers. Unfortunately, the Bucks can't seem to stay healthy, and former Clipper Drew Gooden is out indefinitely, while former Clipper Corey Maggette left their last game with a sore back (his status for tonight is unknown). The Bucks were terrific in the second half of last season based on their stellar defense, which allowed them to win games despite an unimpressive offense. This year, the offense is even worse, and the defense is off as well, making it not good enough to compensate. Even in the East where more than one sub-.500 team is likely to make the playoffs, the Bucks have begun to fall off the pace. They're still only five games away from a playoff spot, but they're moving in the wrong direction.
- Bucks Starters. In their loss to the Pacers on Saturday, no Bucks starter scored more than 10 points. The five starters combined for only 46 points total. That's obviously not a good thing.
- Clippers record in back to backs. Back to backs are tough, especially on the road, and most teams do much worse in them than they do overall. Surprisingly, the Clippers have been OK in them. They lost their first five of the season, while they were losing pretty much everything, but since December 1st, they've won more often than they've lost in the second games of back to backs. Their second road win of the season came on the second night of a back to back in Chicago, as did the only win of the current trip, last Wednesday in New York. Amazingly, while the Clippers have only four road wins total on the season, and three of them came in the second game of a back to back. Go figure. So maybe it's not such a bad thing that they're on a back to back tonight.
- Jennings. Since returning from foot surgery, Brandon Jennings has struggled to make shots. Not that he was the best shooter percentage-wise before he was hurt (he's shooting only 38.5% on the season), but in his nine games since coming off of injury, he's made only 34 of 104 shots, 32.7%. Surprisingly, he looked quite good against the Clippers, in only his second game back, but he's struggled in most of his other games recently. He's no longer on any sort of minutes restrictions, and has averaged around 37 minutes in his last three games.
- Dominant bigs. In the first meeting between these teams, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 48 points and 18 rebounds on 20 for 28 shooting. Jordan also had 5 blocks in that game. Unfortunately, Jordan has not been nearly as active or effective since that game, and Griffin has not been very efficient since. The Clippers need to dominate inside if they want to win this one.
- Who guards Blake Superior? Ersan Ilyasova doesn't seem strong enough. Maggette is plenty strong, but he isn't big enough, and isn't a particularly good defender. Former Bruin Luc-Richard Mbah a Moute may be Milwaukee's best bet; or maybe they'll put Bogut on him. Regardless, Griffin will be a major problem for the Bucks, as he is for most teams.
- The Clipper-Bucks. Over the last few seasons, there have been some teams that featured a large number of former Clippers. Last season's Wizards come to mind for instance. But this Milwaukee team must rank near the top of assemblages of former LAC players on the same team. Five former Clippers have seen action for the Bucks this year, and while Brian Skinner only saw limited minutes before being waived, the other four have all featured prominently in Milwaukee's season. Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling, who happened to join the Clippers as part of the same transaction eleven years ago, were teammates in LA for four seasons at the start of the decade. Meanwhile, another LA teammate of theirs, Earl Boykins, has resurrected his career with the Bucks this year. Then there is Clipper short timer Gooden, who parlayed some big minutes and meaningless production with a tanking Clippers team last year into a mid level exception contract with the Bucks this summer.
- Superstar for one game: John Salmons. Salmons has had some big games against the Clippers over the years.
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush—and that was all.
- Get the Bucks perspective at Brew Hoop.