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Clippers versus Trailblazers - Game Preview

2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
January 1, 2012 6:30 PM
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul PG Raymond Felton
Chauncey Billups SG Wesley Matthews
Caron Butler SF Gerald Wallace
Blake Griffin PF LaMarcus Aldridge
DeAndre Jordan C Marcus Camby

Back Story:

First meeting of the season for the Clippers and Trailblazers, and the Blazers are looking for their sixth victory in a row against the Clips. Both teams are in transition with significantly different rosters this year.

The Antagonist:

The Blazers had a couple of major disappointments this past year. First, and foremost, this is the first season out of the the last six that they'll be without the services of three time all-star Brandon Roy, forced into retirement after half a dozen surgeries on his knees that have apparently ended his basketball career. They're also starting the season without center Greg Oden, first pick in the 2008 draft, who missed 20 games in his first season, 60 in his second, all of his third, and, apparently all of this year as well, his fourth. But don't feel too sorry for the Blazers, they are experienced and deep with almost-all star LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, and a crop of tough role players in Marcus Camby, Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford, and newcomer Raymond Felton, a point guard traded for Andre Miller, one of the most hated men to ever wear a Clipper uniform. They've also got Nicholas Batum and shored up their back-up center spot with the ageless Kurt Thomas.

The Subplots:
  • Aldridge versus Griffin. More than a few people (and all Blazer fans) thought LMA should have gotten the nod for the all-star team over Griffin last year, and for good reason. Drafted the same year as Roy, the sixth year power forward went 22/9/2 last year. He's good... and he's the better defender.
  • The coaches. Vinny Del Negro versus Nate McMillan. McMillan has the most hostile glare in the NBA. Really. You want this guy on your side. Vinny? Really good hair. Not scary. As coaches? McMillan's the real thing.
  • The Trailblazers traded away Andre Miller this off-season. Clipper fans didn't like Andre Miller. When the Clips front office traded for him in 2002, Miller took a team that had won 39 games the year before and managed to win 23 and the very capable Alvin Gentry took the fall. And then, seven years later, there was this. I like Portland. Nice town. They did the right thing in getting rid of this guy.
  • The benches. Let's see... Nicolas Batum, Kurt Thomas, and Jamal Crawford vs.Mo Williams, Brian Cook, and Ryan Gomes. Maybe the Clipper starters can go 48.
  • Quick who is Portland's GM? After firing Kevin Pritchard and then Rich Cho, owner and billionaire Paul Allen has been slow to choose a new guy. It's only a rumor that his cabalistic inner circle at "Vulcan Productions" are running the show. Despite all this, the Trailblazers managed to bring in Crawford and Thomas. Camby and Thomas give the Blazers the oldest center rotation in the galaxy.
  • Clippers don't get any breaks. Portland's 3-0 record is no accident. They're a well-coached, experienced team that's come back quickly from the loss of Brandon Roy... replacing his ouput with improvement from Aldridge and the estimable Gerald Wallace. Remember all the pundits who predicted big things for the Clippers this year? There are a lot of good teams in the west. Portland's one of them.
For the other guy's POV go to Blazer's Edge.