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Clippers-Pacers preview: Going For Season Sweep

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After distancing themselves from the Detroit Pistons in the second half on Monday, the Los Angeles Clippers look for second straight win overall and to sweep season series against Indiana Pacers.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Regular Season
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vs
17-7

8-17
December 17th, 2014, 7:30 PM
STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, California)
Prime Ticket, FSMW, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown (2014-2015)
7-3 East 5-8
10-4 West 3-9
3-2 Division 1-2
9-3 Home 5-8
8-4 Road 3-9
5-5 .500+ 4-13
12-2 .500- 4-4
1-0 OT 0-2
8-2 L10 2-8
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG C.J. Watson
J.J. Redick SG Rodney Stuckey
Matt Barnes SF Solomon Hill
Blake Griffin PF David West
DeAndre Jordan C Roy Hibbert
Advanced Stats
96.11 (12th of 30) Pace 94.74 (22nd of 30)
110.6 (3rd of 30) ORtg 97.5 (28th of 30)
103.2 (15th of 30) DRtg 102.5 (11th of 30)
Injuries/Other
Spencer Hawes (Day-to-Day) Knee
Paul George (Out) Leg
Reggie Bullock (Day-to-Day) Ankle
George Hill (Out) Quadriceps

Ian Mahinmi (Out) Foot

Clippers lead season series over Pacers; 1-0
Date
Venue
Final
Clips Nation Recap
ESPN Box Score
12/10/2014
Indianapolis
Clippers 103, Pacers 96
Recap
Box Score

The Big Picture

After two straight losses on the road against Eastern Conference opponents, the Los Angeles Clippers returned home on Monday night to defeat the Detroit Pistons. While the Pistons are going through issues of their own, it's always good to get a win no matter who it's against. Blake Griffin looked good, going off for 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists and not even playing a single second in the fourth quarter. Neither did Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Matt Barnes. It's always good when the starters get a rest but it's better when it happens in a win. Ultimately, the Clippers are 17-7 and are already ahead of last year's pace. With a win, the Clippers would be 18-7 and would be off to their second best start after 25 games in the Chris Paul Era. They were 19-6 in 2012-2013. Not too shabby for a team that people are freaking out about.

The Antagonist

The Indiana Pacers are still struggling but are actually coming off of a win after they dispatched of the Los Angeles Lakers rather handily on Monday night. The win ended an 8-game losing streak and moved them to 8-17. The Pacers held the Lakers to 33.0 percent shooting on Monday. That number was actually vastly improved since Los Angeles managed to shoot just 7-for-43 (16.3 percent) in the first half and recorded only 27 points in the game's opening 24 minutes. It was a great defensive effort by the Pacers. When their defense is clicking, they are a tough squad to get a win over. But the injuries have taken a toll, as has the lackluster play recently from Chris Copeland. Frank Vogel recently demoted him to the bench and is now rolling with a C.J. Watson and Rodney Stuckey backcourt.

For More: Visit Indy Cornrows

The Subplots

  • Comparison of key metrics ~ Last season, the Los Angeles Clippers posted an NBA-best 109.4 Offensive Rating. This year, they rank third. However, that rating is at 110.6, which means their offense this year is producing nearly 1.5 points per 100 possessions better than last year's. The Indiana Pacers have seen their Offensive Rating slip from last year's 101.5 to this year's 97.5. They've fallen from 22nd to 28th. On the defensive side of the ball, the Clippers' mark of 103.2 is slightly worse than last year's mark of 102.1. For the Pacers, due to a host of reasons, their Defensive Rating is down from an NBA-best 96.7 last year to 102.5 so far this season.
  • The Questionable Blogger ~ Prior to the previous meeting a week ago, Tom Lewis from Indy Cornrows answered a few of the questions that I had for him. You can find his responses to those questions by clicking right here. If you'd like to follow Tom at all on Twitter, you can do so by going to his account (@IndyCornrows) and clicking the follow button. It's that simple.
  • Schedule ~ The Clippers are two games into a stretch where they'll play 12 of 15 games at home. Their only trips out on the road during that span will be to Denver on Friday night and then to San Antonio next Monday before heading to Atlanta to play the second game of a back-to-back next Tuesday. After they finish up in Atlanta, they'll begin a 9-game homestand against Toronto, Utah, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, the Lakers, Dallas, and Miami. For the Pacers, this trip to Los Angeles begins the first of a 3-game road trip and a stretch where they'll play 9 of 12 on the road. They'll actually have two separate trips out west. One starting on Wednesday night and one starting in early January when they come back to STAPLES Center to play the Lakers before heading to Utah and Golden State. This road heavy stretch ultimately should sink them in the Eastern Conference standings.
  • Farmar Finds Fit? ~ On Monday night against the Pistons, Jordan Farmar had his best game in a Clippers uniform. He totaled 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting and also amassed 5 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 block in 23:01. Better yet, he was 3-for-7 from three and during one stretch managed to score 10 straight points for the good guys. Counting assists during that stretch, Farmar had a hand in 16 consecutive points. It was good to see him play well since the backup behind Chris Paul might see starting action at some point this season.
  • Paul's Poor Play ~ Speaking of Point God, he's been pretty Point Godawful at times during the last few games. He went into halftime on Monday night with just 1 point before exploding for 10 points in the third quarter. He finished with 11 points for the game on 4-for-7 shooting and also put up 8 assists, 2 rebounds, and just 1 turnover in 24:04. Even counting the win in Indiana last Wednesday, Paul is averaging just 14.3 points on 44.2 percent shooting and 4.3 turnovers over the last four games. The 17 turnovers over the last four games are more than he had in the prior seven games combined (13). He averaged 17.0 points on 51.8 percent shooting and 1.9 turnovers during those games. Clippers need Paul back up to that level if they want to gain ground going forward.
  • X-Factor: C.J. Miles ~ It would be wise of the Clippers to not allow Miles to go off again. A lot of what he did during the prior meeting this season was beyond their control as he was bombing shots from outside the arena almost. You can't do anything about that. But they can always crowd him even more on ball denial and make it tougher for him to gain separation. Miles put up 30 points on 14-for-22 shooting -- 7-for-14 from three -- in the game last week. Clippers cannot allow a repeat performance. He torched the Lakers for 20 points on 16 shots on Monday night after missing the previous game with a bruised left knee. He injured the knee in the first quarter, and ultimately left in the second quarter, against Toronto just one game after that Clippers barrage. When he's on the floor, whoever his man is should locate him early and often whenever Indiana is on offense.
  • Jordan v Hibbert: Round II ~ Last week, DeAndre Jordan took Roy Hibbert's lunch money and then drank his milkshake. Hibbert was so dismal for the Pacers that head coach Frank Vogel only played him 12:12, partly because of foul trouble, and opted to go with Luis Scola and Lavoy Allen instead. Hibbert finished the game with only 4 points and 3 rebounds. Jordan, meanwhile, played 34:24 and looked like the dominant big man he can be at times. He finished with 12 points, a season-high 19 rebounds, and also swatted away 3 shots. If Jordan can even come close to matching that performance again, the Clippers should have no problem walking away with their hand raised at home once more.
  • Griffin's Stat-Stuffing ~ To put it simply, Blake Griffin is the only player in the NBA this year that is averaging 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Yup, that's right. The only one. But lately he's been a little off his game. After going off for 45 points and that game-winning three against Phoenix, Griffin has totaled just 59 points in the past four games and only 16 free throws. Against the Suns, he took 17 free throws. He's just 9-for-32 (28.1 percent) outside of 8-feet over the last four games and has averaged only 4.0 free throws per game. In the six games prior to that, he was 30-for-59 (50.8 percent) outside of 8-feet and averaged 9.0 free throws per game. He needs to pick up the scoring load.
  • The Injuries ~ The Pacers have been dealing with injuries all season, as have the Clippers to a far lesser extent. After missing a few games, Jordan Farmar has come back and is playing well as noted earlier. Chris Douglas-Roberts has also come back and notched his first made three of the season on Monday night. However, Spencer Hawes has missed the last few games after injuring his knee in Washington a few days ago. The Clippers and Doc Rivers are being cautious with him, as they should be, and there's no timetable for his return. Due to Hawes' injury, Glen Davis is playing more and stepped up well on Monday night. The Clippers just can't afford any more setbacks at this point to guys who will be key rotation players.
  • Connections ~ Chris Paul and David West will always be connected thanks to their time playing together in New Orleans with the Hornets. C.J. Watson and Matt Barnes were teammates for one year in Golden State as members of the Warriors. Watson also spent some time with former Clipper Corey Maggette on the Warriors. Ian Mahinmi played with former Clippers Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Steve Novak over two years in Dallas. Doc Rivers and Frank Vogel each have coached Gerald Green in the NBA and each of the two coaches have spent time on the coaching staff with the Boston Celtics. Vogel as an assistant and Doc as a head coach.
  • Wikipedia Entry ~ Project PACER was a program in the mid-1970's in which small hydrogen or fission bombs were detonated underground to create an energy source. The problem with keeping the project running was that it required a rather large and never-ending supply of nuclear bombs. The detonations took place in Los Alamos, New Mexico. In auto racing, a pace car limits the speed at which competing drivers on a racetrack can race at while a caution is in progress. The first use of a pace car in auto racing was in 1911 during the inaugural Indianapolis 500. Ray Harroun won the race with an average speed of 74.6 miles per hour and led 88 of the 200 laps. The average speed of the 2014 Indy 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was 186.6 miles per hour.
  • Indy Cornrows ~ To get the Indiana Pacers perspective on the game, you can head on over there and discuss it with them.