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Clippers-Blazers Preview: Back to the trap

Since Dave already gave us such a thorough preview of this game, this one will be short and sweet with just the basics.

2012/2013 NBA Regular Season

November 8th, 2012, 7:30 PM
The Rose Garden
Clippers Tickets
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Damian Lillard
Willie Green SG Wesley Matthews
Caron Butler SF Nicolas Batum
Blake Griffin PF LaMarcus Aldridge
DeAndre Jordan C J.J. Hickson
Advanced Stats through Nov. 7
96.2 (1st of 30) Pace 92.8 (18th of 30)
108.7 (4th of 30) ORtg 103.4 (16th of 30)
102.5 (14th of 30) DRtg 107.9 (26th of 30)
Chauncey Billups (Achilles surgery) out
Elliot Williams (Achilles surgery) out
Trey Thompkins (knee) out

Grant Hill (knee) out

The Back Story:

The teams have yet to meet this season. Portland won the season series last year three games to one.

The Big Picture:

The Clippers are 3-0 against 2012 playoff teams, 0-2 against 2012 lottery teams (with both losses coming at home). Do you think maybe they have had a bit of a focus problem and come out a bit flat this season a couple of times? Portland is another 2012 lottery team, which may spell trouble, especially because this is a team that you sleep on at your own peril. On the second game of a back-to-back on the road in a tough building after the high of smacking the Spurs, the Clippers could definitely have a letdown, which could be a big problem.

The Antagonist:

The starting five for the Blazers is quite good (depending on your view of J.J. Hickson). LaMarcus Aldridge was an All NBA selection two seasons ago; Nic Batum just signed a huge contract and is a prototype versatile small forward; Wes Matthews is a solid shooting guard; Damian Lillard is getting early Rookie of the Year buzz. As for Hickson, he has scored 27, 28 and 29 in three of his last four games against the Clippers. The bench is another matter. But the Blazers are always tough in the Rose Garden, and they always give the Clippers fits.

The Subplots

  • Clips Nation viewing party. Be sure to come out to Joey's Smokin' BBQ in Torrance (25308 Crenshaw Blvd) to watch the game with other citizens of Clips Nation tonight. I'll be there, and I'd love to meet as many of you as possible. Plus you can get 20% off when you mention Clips Nation! Let's have a big turnout. Just think how much fun it would have been to be watching that game last night with a bunch of other Clipper fans.
  • Trading places. Blazer Dave from Blazer'sEdge wrote a Blazer-centric preview here on Clips Nation and I wrote a Clippers-centric one on Blazer'sEdge. Be sure to check them out if you haven't already.
  • Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers, 27th in pace last season, are officially playing at the fastest pace in the league after running all over the Spurs last night. Now this is a very easily skewed number -- there's very little difference between the fast team in the league and the slowest (last season the fastest team was 3.7% faster than the mean and the slowest team was 3.3% slower than the mean, so little shifts mean a lot). And three of the Clippers early season opponents (Warriors, Cavs and Grizz) are in the top five in pace themselves, so playing opponents who play at a high pace will make your pace increase. But clearly the team is looking to push the ball more, as they said they would. The Blazers numbers don't really make them look like a 2-2 team on the other hand.
  • Lamar Odom. For the second straight game, Lamar played a few first half minutes, but lost his spot in the second half rotation with a poor performance. Vinny Del Negro has gone with Ronny Turiaf in the second half instead of Lamar the last couple of games. Lamar did get into garbage time at the end last night -- where he airballed a three.
  • Crawford. Jamal Crawford had a dismal season in Portland last season and he is pretty much hated there. He can definitely expect to hear a LOT of boos when he checks in tonight.
  • Jordan. DeAndre Jordan played perhaps his best game as a pro last night. Given that a big part of DJ's development needs to come in the area of consistency, it would be great to see him back it up with another good performance tonight.
  • Get the Blazers perspective at Blazer'sEdge.
  • Lyrical reference:

    Joe Jackson - Blaze of Glory

    And they say it's a tragic story
    He just wasn't there one day
    But he went out in a blaze of glory
    And you and I - you and I just fade away

    I know I show my age with some of these, but Joe Jackson is to me one of the most underrated artists of the 80s. And I'm not going to pretend that the Blaze of Glory album was on the level of I'm the Man or Night and Day, but it was nonetheless woefully underappreciated.