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Preseason Game #2: We March North

After a preseason debut that resulted in a win, the Los Angeles Clippers head to Canada to battle the Toronto Raptors. The two teams will be playing in Vancouver, a former NBA city. Will the night be dark and full of terrors?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2015/2016 NBA Preseason

October 4, 2015 | 4:00 PM (PDT)
Rogers Arena (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
Prime Ticket, TSN2, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown (2014-2015 Regular Season)
19-11 East 33-19
37-15 West 16-14
12-4 Division 11-5
30-11 Home 27-14
26-15 Road 22-19
19-22 .500 + 15-21
37-4 - .500 34-12
1-1 OT 4-3
9-1 L10 7-3
Projected Starters
Chris Paul PG Kyle Lowry
J.J. Redick SG DeMar DeRozan
Paul Pierce SF DeMarre Carroll
Blake Griffin PF Patrick Patterson
DeAndre Jordan C Jonas Valanciunas
Advanced Stats (2014-2015 Regular Season)
96.96 (10th of 30) Pace 95.40 (20th of 30)
109.8 (1st of 30) ORtg 108.1 (3rd of 30)
103.0 (15th of 30) DRtg 104.8 (23rd of 30)
Cole Aldrich (Out) Ankle
Raptors won 2014-15 season series against Clippers; 2-0
Clips Nation Recap
NBA Box Score
Los Angeles
Raptors 110, Clippers 98
Box Score
Raptors 123, Clippers 107
Box Score

The Dunkraki
Well, the Los Angeles Clippers surely tried to rip defeat out of the jaws of victory again, huh? After building a 21-point lead late in the third quarter, the team nearly gave all of it back before managing to hold on for a seven point win against the Denver Nuggets. Now, they have to travel into Canada and play in a country that believes plastic bags are a suitable container for milk. We will not stand for this! The Clippers will ride this wave of disdain through the Vancouver countryside – is it a countryside? – and wage war on the bagged milk heathens from the north! The Dunkraki shall attack through the air with lobs aplenty.

Army North of the Wall
After a pretty successful regular season last year, the Toronto Raptors sort of flamed out in the playoffs thanks to the Washington Wizards and new-Clipper Paul Pierce. It was a sad ending to a great year for the franchise and city. The entire “We The North” mantra and mentality is one of the best things in sports, if we’re being honest. To further expand their brand and success, the Raptors went out and signed free agent wingman DeMarre Carroll – which is a huge plus since it also stole him away from a fellow Eastern Conference competitor; the Atlanta Hawks. This might finally be the year Raptors take that next step and do something they haven’t done since the 2000-01 season – i.e. make it out of the first round.

Opposition's Blog: Raptors HQ

Comparison of Key Metrics
Moderately tempted to declare the Clippers the best team in basketball since they’re first in pace, Offensive Efficiency, and Defensive Efficiency in the preseason, but we’ll hold off on that for now. Last season’s games between these two teams were fairly high-scoring since neither defense was really on track at that point and both offenses were among the best in the league. With the signing of Carroll, it seems like Toronto will take that next step defensively. They don’t have poor defenders across the board, but they’ll need to do better as a team. Both teams should be great offensively again and both teams should improve from where they were last year when it comes to defense. We shall see this season, though.

After these two teams play in Vancouver, they go in opposite directions geographically. The Clippers will travel to China to play two games against the Charlotte Hornets before coming back to the United States to finish up with two home games at the STAPLES Center. Those two home games will be against the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers. For Toronto, this is their first preseason game of the year and they follow it up with a visit to San Jose to take on the Warriors before heading to Ontario, California to play the Los Angeles Lakers. From there, they get to go to their actual home and get to play the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading out to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to play Minnesota again. They then finish up the preseason in Toronto against the Cleveland Cavaliers and in Montreal against the Washington Wizards.

Less Dribbling, More Movement
The team, as a whole, needs to do a better job of moving the ball and themselves around the court in an effort to generate higher quality shots. Quite a few times throughout the game on Friday night, the offense grew stagnant because they wanted to go one-on-one. Part of that is because the team didn’t really install an offense in the few days of training camp that they had and wanted players to play a loose and free style. That’s fine. We saw what loose and free ultimately was, though. However, the other part was that the team had too many ball-handlers trying to ‘wow’ everyone instead of looking for anyone else on the court. That’s certainly fine, but that cannot continue. The ball has to move around the court in order to create opportunities for everyone. On top of the ball moving around the court, the players need to move without it. That’s the harder part. Stagnant players lead to stagnant offense. Stagnant offense leads to uninspired play. Team needs to clean that up going forward.

Clever Girl
The Toronto Raptors sure are smart, aren’t they? They went out and poached one of Atlanta’s best two-way players in the offseason by giving DeMarre Carroll a four-year and $58 million contract. It might seem like a slight overpay, but it takes a good player from a great team last year and gives Toronto even more options. In the grand scheme of things, that contract will look fantastic in a couple years because of the new salary cap. For the most part, their building blocks are locked up to quality deals over the next several years. Not to mention that they’re going to have a ton of cap space going into the next offseason, which means they can make a run at – dun, dun, dun – Kevin Durant. That’s too far into the future, but for right now the team has set themselves up quite well for the future with a myriad of smart moves.

DeAndre's Offensive Outburst
If the first preseason game is any indication then DeAndre Jordan is going to get A LOT of easy basket opportunities this season. In an article on here from about two weeks ago, it talked about how important Jordan was to the Clippers' pick-and-roll game because of his screening prowess. In fact, Vantage Sports rated him as the number two screener in basketball last season. The team seems to be using his skill there to create scoring chances for him. The gravity of the offense draws defenders towards J.J. Redick and Blake Griffin naturally, as well as making them unable to leave Chris Paul wide open. So, when the Clippers run the pick-and-roll action, it usually leaves Jordan free to rim run for lobs or putback chances. It opens up a whole world of possibilities for the offense and it seems to be something they’re going to let him take advantage of this year. While the Dallas Mavericks wanted to post Jordan up, the Clippers will get him the ball in his more natural spots. And that’s a win-win for both Jordan and the Clippers.

Backcourt Battle
One of the key on-court battles in this game will take place in the backcourt where we’ll see Chris Paul and J.J. Redick go to war with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Last year, Lowry played well against the Clippers and averaged 23.0 points to go with 4.0 assists on 57.7 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from deep. Los Angeles had plenty of issues trying to stop him. While he only played one game and didn’t shoot great, DeRozan still put up 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists while tallying 13 trips to the charity stripe. It might only be a preseason game, but the Clippers have to win this backcourt battle in order to win the game. Throw in Terrence Ross, as well as new additions Cory Joseph and rookie Delon Wright, and you can see this’ll be a solid test for the Clippers. Fortunately, the Clippers have enough bodies to throw back at them in the form of Austin Rivers, Pablo Prigioni, Jamal Crawford, and Lance Stephenson. Maybe this’ll test those guys. Maybe not. One thing is for certain, though, and that’s that this will be a high quality affair between these two units.

Shot Selection Has To Improve
Open threes late in the shot clock, drives to the rim, and any kind of foray that doesn’t make you wonder what they were doing is a genuinely good possession for Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson. However, the main issue the two of them had on Friday night was that they simply took bad shots quite a few times. On one occasion, Stephenson dribbled for a long time before jumping into a stepback foot-on-the-line two-pointer that he clanked. Another time, he crossed over and dazzled the crowd before pulling up from the mid-range area and making a shot. Smith, on the other hand, took a three-pointer or two way too early in the clock, drained a mid-range jumper over a larger defender, and missed the basket entirely on an elbow jumper. The Clippers need both to rein in their shot selection. It seems tough to see how that happens, but it still (theoretically) could. These two will be the main bench pieces this season so they’re going to get their shots. That much is certain. Yet, they cannot just take shots for the sake of taking them. They should live in transition, around the basket, and from beyond the arc when it’s smart. None of this long two stuff. That’s part of what got them into trouble at other stops in the NBA.

Who Wins The Final Spot?
News on Saturday from the team was that they had waived Nikoloz Tskitishvili. That makes the race for the final roster spot a tad easier to watch unfold during the preseason. According to Ben Bolch, the battle for the 15th and final spot on the roster is between Chuck Hayes and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. At this point, there’s no way to tell who is going to get the job, but it is something to watch. The team doesn’t necessarily need to fill the roster spot, yet it seems like most people are already choosing sides in this little dustup for it. A lot of people like what they saw out of Mbah a Moute on Friday night, a performance that saw him chip in with 4 points and 3 rebounds in 4:35. He also lost a tooth. Hayes didn’t get into the game, but he’s a veteran presence who is a great post defender. Ultimately, the team will decide what the more pressing need is. Do they want a legitimate big man defender or do they want a wing defender? Neither has an offensive game so it’s a wash there. And, not to mention, neither will likely play that much this season. Still, it’s a fun little battle to watch. May the best veteran win.

  • Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox both played for the University of Washington.
  • James Johnson and Chris Paul both played for Wake Forest University.
  • Norman Powell and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute both played for UCLA.
  • Chuck Hayes played for the Toronto Raptors over the course of the last two seasons.
  • Patrick Patterson and Cole Aldrich were once teammates on the Houston Rockets.
  • Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, James Johnson, and Chuck Hayes were once teammates on the Sacramento Kings.
  • Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll and Chuck Hayes were once teammates on the Houston Rockets.

  • (If some connections were missed, list them in the comment section.)

    Video Game Reference
    To say that there’s been a lot of Jurassic Park video games would be one of the grossest understatements in human history. The first one, of the same name, debuted in June 1993 and was available for purchase on the original Nintendo game system. The latest installment – Lego Jurassic World – debuted June 2015 and is available on nearly every console that’s out there right now. If you haven’t played any of the Lego video games, you probably should. They’re pretty great and a nice change of pace. While the movie franchise has grossed roughly $3.7 billion worldwide, the video games haven’t come remotely close to replicating that. And, in all fairness, it’s pretty impossible for any video game franchise to do so. It speaks to the power of the movie franchise. With the sequel to Jurassic World set to hit theaters in 2018, you can bet there'll be another video game based around the iconic dinosaur genre.