Thomas Wood: Alright, Shap, there's 10 games left this season, and even though there are a couple cupcakes, these are teams that are sneakily competent on defense. Any of these matchups jump out at you as particularly good for some of the Clippers, fantasy-wise?
Shap: It'd be easy to say Philadelphia by just looking at records, but they're actually not a bad defensive team. Philly has actually made it a decent habit to hold teams closer to their terrible offense than you'd think. Now teams like Denver and that other LA team, those are a couple teams you could run stats up on.
TW: Philly is surprisingly tied for 10th in defensive efficiency. When did that happen?! I know Noel's been impressive, but that's a mighty good rating.
I, too, am looking at that double-dip against the Lakers as the Clippers best opportunity. Blake and DeAndre could devour that front line. Points, rebounds, steals, blocks -- you name it, they should get it. What do you think about Golden State? Great, great defensive team, but would you count on the Clippers to bring some extra effort?
S: That frontline is vicious and as much as it's easy to remember DeAndre's monster statlines from last postseason, that frontline is a terror and any big man is prone to have an off night against the wrestling tag team of Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut. Even Paul, despite getting up for the Warriors, often has to tire himself out heading the Clippers trap schemes against Stephen Curry, and he can be hard to bank on.
I do love Paul's matchup against the turnstile that is Damian Lillard, though, and he should continue his dominance in that matchup.
TW: Portland is a good choice, indeed, especially with Wes Matthews out. That could benefit both Paul and Redick.
Phoenix is interesting to me, not because they're particularly ineffective defensively (currently tied with the Clippers at 17th), but because they play at such a fast pace. I like teams that want to run, because this Clipper team has never been disciplined about imposing its own style and pace. If you run, the Clippers will run too, and the extra possessions mean extra stats.
S: Phoenix is definitely a team on the radar, and the Clippers have already had some of their more memorable moments against that team this season. In fact, there seems to be a bunch of great Clipper/Suns moments from the past few years, but a lot of that did stem from the great Dragic/Paul matchup. Even with Dragic gone, Knight has been statistically a pretty quality defender at the point, and it'll be interesting to see how Phoenix defends Paul now. The frontline, and especially Griffin, have a huge advantage against that team despite how much P.J. Tucker says they don't.
TW: There's one thing that would worry me about that Phoenix game, and it's a biggie. When does Doc start cutting minutes? The Clippers are currently 5th. Do you shoot for 3rd? (You can't have 4th because Portland, as division leader, can't fall past that.) Do you tank a little and drop to 6th to get Houston in round 1 and avoid the Warriors in round 2? This could wreak havoc on fantasy stats, especially if Doc doesn't explicitly state his minutes plan.
S: From what I can remember, aside from the last game of the season last year, Doc did seem to value playing the guys he'd play in the playoffs so they'd find a rhythm down the stretch. I know much is made about him resting Celtics in the past, but those were all old dudes well past their primes. I do think there could be some Clipper rest in the future, but I'm not so sure Doc would shut down guys Pop-style. He might, but I think he'd give fair warning, at least. And not everyone would be shut down, meaning other guys would pick up the slack in the stat sheet. I do think Redick is due for some rest, just based on his work load and past injury history. It's good that he feels healthy, though.
TW: Doc may not have much choice, either. This bench seems as wracked by injury as the starting lineup. I/he/you/we all would be happy to get into the playoffs with 8 or 9 healthy guys.
Until next week.
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