The Big Picture:
The Clippers have played three preseason games so far, but they have yet to play in an actual NBA arena. They opened the preseason on the Strip in Las Vegas against the Nuggets, then traveled to China for a pair of games against the Heat in Beijing and Shanghai. Tonight they finally get a chance to play in familiar surroundings when they meet the Jazz in STAPLES Center. The Clippers my be the home team, but the Jazz are feeling pretty much at home in L.A. right now. They beat the Lakers in STAPLES Center on Saturday, then crushed them again in Anaheim at the Honda Center last night, and face the Clippers tonight. In other words, the Jazz have been hanging out in L.A. while the Clippers were traveling from Shanghai back to California. Now the Jazz are playing the second game of a preseason back to back (which is just stupid -- who does that?) so you can expect coach Ty Corbin to distribute minutes pretty widely. On the other hand, the Clippers looked very lethargic in their first China game after traveling from LA to China -- I expect them to be dragging after their return flight as well. It ain't easy playing basketball a couple days after a 14 hour flight while adjusting to a nine hour time difference. The good news for the Clippers is that they have Chris Paul back, and Paul is what makes the Clippers go.
- The Questionable Blogger. In advance of this game I exchanged some questions with Amar from SB Nation's outstanding Jazz blog SLC Dunk. You can read his answers to my questions here, and head over there to see my answers to his questions.
- Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers and Jazz were somewhat similar teams last season in terms of efficiency -- better than average on offense, worse than average on defense. The Clippers happened to be a little better on both fronts. The Jazz play at a faster pace than the Clippers, but then again almost everyone does.
- Enes Kanter. Be sure to read Amar's answer to my questions about young Jazz big man Enes Kanter. I've always kind of liked Kanter's game, and he completely transformed his body while adding quickness and additional skills to his game during the offseason. He could be poised for a major break out this season. Also, dude seems to like hanging out in L.A., so maybe he'll be a good free agency acquisition in 2015 or so.
- Kanter and Favors, Millsap and Jefferson. Kanter (20) and Derrick Favors (21) are young, very promising bigs on favorable rookie contracts. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are very good bigs, making a lot of money and poised to make even more when they become free agents this summer. Which leaves the Jazz in a delicate situation. How do you distribute minutes to all of these talented front court players, and what is the future of Millsap and Jefferson in Utah? Do you try to flip one or both of them for something else before the trade deadline? In a league with relatively little low post scoring, the Jazz have several players who are or could be very, very good on the low block. But is it too much of a good thing?
- Our old friend Mo Williams. Williams of course when to Utah in the deal that brought Lamar Odom to the Clippers. The Jazz then traded away Devin Harris, giving the starting point guard role to Mo. Williams began his NBA career in Utah, and by all accounts both parties are happy to have him back there -- it seems like a good fit. But Williams too is in a contract year, so it will be interesting to see if he remains with the Jazz after this season.
- Our old friend Randy Foye. Hey, you know how we've all been complaining about Willie Green? About how he's supposed to be our new Foye, the fill-in starter while Billups is hurt, but he's been so terrible in preseason? I mean, come on, Green has made just 7 of 27 shots, and is just 2 for 9 from three point range. What could possibly be worse than that? How about 1 for 17 and 0 for 5? Foye has been much worse shooting the ball in preseason than Green has so far, opening the campaign 1-17 in his first three games (he bounced back some and shot 4-9 last night against the Lakers). Utah could really use some backcourt help, but so far Foye hasn't been the answer. Of course, it's still only preseason for both Foye and Green.
- Jordan. DeAndre Jordan has been a revelation so far this preseason. Tonight will be a new challenge, especially on the defensive end. Al Jefferson is one of the most versatile scoring bigs in the league. Jefferson's up fakes in particular are devastatingly good, and DeAndre has always had a tendency to take big bites on such fakes. Can DJ find the discipline to stay down, crowd Jefferson, and still bother his shot? On the other end, big Al has never been the best defender and he's undersized; if DJ's performance so far has not been a mirage, he could have a big game.
- Marvin Williams. Williams was traded to Utah this summer in the deal that sent Harris to Atlanta. You can't really have a game featuring Williams and Chris Paul without mentioning the fact that the Hawks chose Williams second in the 2005 draft when they could have had Paul. Of course the Jazz then drafted Deron Williams third, but that's a bit more understandable.
- Get the Utah perspective at SLC Dunk.
- Lyrical reference:
Jimmy Jazz -- The Clash
Don't you bother me, not anymore
I can't take this tale, oh, no more
It's all around, Jimmy Jazz
The Freakin' Clash, man. I doubt many of you remember back in 2008 when I wrote the song "Brandon Calling" to the tune of the Clash's "London Calling" for Blazersedge. That song was some of my best work, though or course now it's just sad given all that has happened in Portland.