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Clippers-Kings Preview: Another Tired Trip

For the second time this season, the Clippers travel to Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back to take on the often feisty Kings.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Regular Season

March 18th, 2015, 7:00 PM
Sleep Train Arena
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
15-11 East 8-19
28-14 West 14-25
25-10 Home 13-20
18-5 Road 9-24
18-21 .500+ 10-31
25-4 .500- 12-13
6-4 L10 2-8
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Ray McCallum
J.J. Redick SG Ben McLemore
Hedo Turkoglu SF Omar Casspi
Blake Griffin PF Carl Landry
DeAndre Jordan C DeMarcus Cousins
Advanced Stats
96.83 (10th of 30) Pace 97.86 (8th 0f 30)
109.1 (tied 1st of 30) ORtg 101.8 (18th of 30)
103.4 (17th of 30) DRtg 106.8 (27th of 30)
Jamal Crawford (calf) out
Rudy Gay (knee) out
Matt Barnes (hamstring) questionable
Darren Collison (hip surgery) out

Ryan Hollins (back) doubtful

The Back Story (The Clippers lead the season series 2-1):

Date Venue Final

11/02/14 Los Angeles Kings 98, Clippers 92 Recap Box
01/17/15 Sacramento Clippers 117, Kings 108 Recap Box
02/21/15 Los Angeles Clippers 126, Kings 99 Recap Box

The Big Picture: The Clippers are locked in a battle for playoff seeding in the hyper-competitive Western Conference. After playing a murderous schedule without Blake Griffin, the Clippers began a relatively easy stretch of games with a win last night against the Charlotte Hornets. But the Basketball Gods can't make it too easy for the Clippers, so the LA squad will have to play parts of this easy stretch without key wing players Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford, both of whom have been sidelined by leg injuries. The Clippers have been stellar against sub-.500 competition this season, so even short handed, they should be able to take care of business tonight.

The Antagonist: The Kings have been a disaster this season. Coaches fired, players injured and a whole lot of games lost. The hire of George Karl hasn't done much to turn it around, the team has gone 4-10 since his arrival. A bright spot for the Kings this season has been the of DeMarcus Cousins, who finally received an All-Star nod. Boogie has had a few huge games against the Clippers that almost single-handedly gave the Kings upset victories over LA. If DeAndre Jordan can limit Cousins' success on either end of the floor it will bode well for a Clippers win.

The Subplots

  • Comparison of key metrics. After leading the league in offensive rating for quite some time, the Clippers have fallen back into a tie with Golden State. The Clippers' defensive rating is still subpar but not as bad as Sacramento's which is among the worst in the league. Both teams rank among the top ten in pace.
  • Importance of seeding. As our fearless leader opined, a 6 or 7 seed might actually be preferable to a 4 or 5 seed. If that is true, then it takes some of the steam off of this game. While you never want to lose, keeping the playoff picture in mind can put a positive spin on a loss.
  • Bad blood with Boogie. DeMarcus Cousins doesn't like Chris Paul, he has made it abundantly clear. He is also not particularly fond of Blake Griffin and has caused a major injury to J.J. Redick. While Cousins is having a relatively tame season by his standards (only 11 techs and 1 ejection), he always appears exceedingly prickly when playing the Clips. Will there be an on-court fiasco involving the always-emotional center?
  • Andre Miller. F--k that guy.
  • Small Forward woes. Both teams go into tonight's game with injuries at the small forward position. Matt Barnes missed last night's game against Charlotte with a hamstring injury and is doubtful tonight. Rudy Gay looks to be missing his third game in a row due to knee soreness. The Clippers also had to cut bait with D-league call-up Jordan Hamilton after he sprained his ankle against the Rockets on Sunday.
  • Connections. Darren Collison played for the Clippers last season, his summer Collison went to Sacramento after being offered the MLE. Ryan Hollins signed with the Kings this off season to back up DeMarcus Cousins. Matt Barnes played high school basketball and football at Del Campo High in Sacramento. Reggie Evans played for the Clippers previously and was a major component in their miraculous comeback win against the Grizzlies. Spencer Hawes started his career with the Kings before he was traded to Philadelphia.
  • Get the Kings perspective at Sactown Royalty.
  • Wikipedia Reference: King (chess): In chess, the king (♔, ♚) is the most important piece. The object of the game is to trap the opponent's king so that its escape is not possible (checkmate). If a player's king is threatened with capture, it is said to be in check, and the player must remove the threat of capture on the next move. If this cannot be done, the king is said to be in checkmate. Although the king is the most important piece, it is usually the weakest piece in the game until a later phase, the endgame.