|2015/2016 NBA Preseason|
|October 10, 2015 | 10:30 PM (PDT)|
|Shenzhen Universiade Center (Shenzhen, China)|
|NBATV, KFWB 980 AM|
|Win-Loss Breakdown (2014-2015 Regular Season)|
|Chris Paul||PG||Kemba Walker|
|J.J. Redick||SG||Jeremy Lamb|
|Paul Pierce||SF||Nicolas Batum|
|Blake Griffin||PF||Marvin Williams|
|DeAndre Jordan||C||Al Jefferson|
|Advanced Stats (2014-2015 Regular Season)|
|96.96 (10th of 30)||Pace||95.33 (22nd of 30)|
|109.8 (1st of 30)||ORtg||97.6 (28th of 30)|
|103.0 (15th of 30)||DRtg||101.0 (9th of 30)|
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Out) Shoulder
What's New With the Clips?
This will be L.A.'s first game action since last Sunday's drubbing at the hands of the Raptors in Vancouver. It'll also be the first of a pair of games the Clippers will play in China with the Charlotte Hornets. It seems like in a lot of ways, the preseason schedule is even more daunting and exhausting than the 82-game regular season marathon. Vancouver? China? The Clippers are going to have traveled well over 15,000 miles before the actual season even starts. I know this is all about promoting the greatness of basketball throughout the world, but sheesh. Paul Pierce is getting too old for this crap.
Behind Enemy Lines
As you can see above in the fancy table, the Clips' opponent over the next couple of games will be the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte came into last season with big hopes after making a surprising run to the postseason in 2013-14, only to become a miserable, unwatchable mess. They finished 33-49, good for 11th in the East, which should be grounds for relegation, honestly. They have gotten off to a 2-0 start this preseason, though, so better plan that parade route now, Charlotte!
What's New With the Hornets?
The Hornets' marquee acquisition a year ago was Lance Stephenson, who now, of course, dons Clipper colors. As has been well-documented, it was a miserable campaign all-around for Lance, who found himself straight-up benched late in the season. They dealt him this summer to L.A. in exchange for Spencer Hawes, who enjoyed a similarly horrendous inaugural season with the Clippers.
The Hornets also traded for Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lamb, and signed Jeremy Lin and professional irritant Tyler Hansbrough as free agents. Their No. 1 draft pick was former Wisconsin Badger standout and bad suit wearer Frank Kaminsky. They controversially turned down a reported kings' ransom from the Celtics to take Kaminsky in the draft over well-regarded Duke product Justise Winslow, who wound up in Miami. Departures from last year's roster include Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh, Bismack Biyombo and Mo Williams.
They also signed defensive wizard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a very team-friendly four-year, $52 million extension this summer, only to see him go down with a devastating shoulder injury in the very first preseason game. This really sucks, because he was the lynchpin of what had become a fairly stingy defense for Charlotte. Now they're left scrambling with MKG out for six months, and will probably have to start either Jeremy Lamb or P.J. Hairston in his place. Not ideal.
What Happened Here Last Year?
The Clips swept the two-game miniseries between the clubs a year ago fairly easily. Without Kidd-Gilchrist in the lineup the Hornets' defense basically cratered. Per Basketball-Reference, with MKG on the floor the Hornets allowed a very tidy 98.8 points per 100 possessions. Without him, that number skyrocketed to 107.4. Yiiiiiikes. The Clips scored 113 and 99 points, respectively, in the two games vs. Charlotte last season. I'll let you guess which game MKG missed.
Matchup to Watch
Al Jefferson (CHA) vs. DeAndre Jordan (LAC)
Jefferson is quite clearly Charlotte's top offensive player, though his numbers were down a year ago from where they'd been in his first season with the team. He's still a load on the block, and one of the craftiest offensive bigs the league has to offer. D.J. has a distinct size and athleticism advantage on Big Al, but he's going to have to be diligent on defense. Jefferson will pump fake like there's no tomorrow, and if Jordan isn't careful he could find himself in some early foul trouble.
Charlotte has quite a bit of depth in the frontcourt. Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams, Hansbrough, Jefferson, Kaminsky and Hawes all figure to get at least some run in this game. The backcourt is where things get dicey for them. There just really isn't a lot here. Other than Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, none of the other guards on the roster (Jeremy Lamb, Troy Daniels and Aaron Harrison) are proven NBA players. Brian Roberts has been around a bit and may well assume the backup point guard duties behind Walker. With so little wing depth, Charlotte may need Lin to play a lot of two guard, which actually may suit his skill set better. Also, check out the haircut Lin is rocking these days. I totally had this 'do in, like, 6th grade. Lookin' sharp, Jeremy.
As for the Clips, here's hoping the bench can look more cohesive than it has in either of the first two preseason outings. So far, there has been an awful lot of weird iso-ball and low-percentage shot attempts. I suppose this is the fear when you run out a lineup that has both Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith. You just know Lance is going to want to show-out in the first matchup against his former club. Hell, he even said as much (from Clippers.com):
"I actually want to go after them," Stephenson said. "I’ve definitely got something to prove after coming off that terrible season I had last year. I learned a lot from it, humbled myself. I’ve just got to come in aggressive and bring it this year."
Unfortunately, to say that Lance has gotten off to a sluggish start with LAC would be quite the understatement. Born Ready is just 2-14 from the field in the two games, and 0-3 from beyond-the-arc. I know, I know, it's preseason. But still, it'd be nice to see him start to look (at least a little bit) like Indiana Lance from two years ago. So far, nothing yet. Odds are he's going to come out super amped for this revenge game and that could lead to trying to force some things.
Yep, these teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to playing style. The Clippers are an up-tempo, score-as-much-as-possible high-wire act, while the Hornets like to slow things down and slug it out. Typically talent is what wins-out regardless of style, and given the obvious talent disparity between these teams one would imagine it'll be the Clippers that will dictate the tempo in this one.
Game Day Beer of Choice
With the Clippers in China, it only seems fitting to supplement the viewing experience with a Chinese beer, no? The only Chinese beer I think I've had is Tsingtao, though, which is fairly meh. A quick Google search for Chinese beers comes up with...
Antarktik! Doesn't sound very Chinese, but sure, whatever! This article states that this beer is brewed with ice shipped from Antarctica. Neat! Is there any way of actually knowing whether or not they really do that? Not at all!
Tip-off will be around 10:30pm PT on NBATV. So crack open an icy-fresh Antarktik and stay up late with us, won't you?