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Clippers-Lakers preview: Sweeping Out STAPLES

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The Clippers go for the season sweep and their seventh consecutive victory over the Lakers.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Regular Season
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vs
Lakers logo
52-26

20-56
April 7th, 2015, 7:30 PM
STAPLES Center (Red and Blue Trim)
TNT, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
19-11 East 12-18
33-15 West 8-38
27-11 Home 11-27
25-15 Road 9-29
21-22 .500+ 7-40
31-4 .500- 13-16
9-1 L10 3-7
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Jeremy Lin
J.J. Redick SG Jordan Clarkson
Matt Barnes SF Wesley Johnson
Blake Griffin PF Ryan Kelly
DeAndre Jordan C Tarik Black
Advanced Stats
96.9 (10th of 30) Pace 96.2 (13th of 30)
110.0 (1st of 30) ORtg 100.7 (22nd of 30)
103.1 (16th of 30) DRtg 107.5 (29th of 30)
Injuries/Other
Jamal Crawford (calf) probable
Kobe Bryant (shoulder) out for season


Julius Randle (broken leg) out for season


Wayne Ellington (shoulder) out for season


Nick Young (kneecap) out for season

The Back Story (The Clippers lead the season series 3-0):

Date Venue Final

10/31/14 Lakers home Clippers 118, Lakers 111 Recap Box
1/7/15 Clippers home Clippers 114, Lakers 89 Recap Box
4/5/15 Lakers home Clippers 106, Lakers 78 Recap Box
4/7/15 Clippers home Tonight

The Big Picture:

Let's do it all over again. But, this time, let's do it on national TV. Some may be tiring of kicking this once great Laker franchise while it's down, but I'm an immature man scarred by a lifetime of ridicule. I won't give away an opportunity to pick at my fellow Angelenos. This section, however, is about the Clippers, and for tonight, that means the likely return and reintegration of Jamal Crawford. The bench-scoring ace has missed the past 17 games with a calf injury, and could come back for tonight's warm-up scrimmage before a biggie with the Grizzlies on Saturday. Crawford represents the team's last potential piece. This squad looks ready, at least as ready as it can be, and would be well-suited if the playoffs began tomorrow. The Clippers dispatched the Lakers with surgical precision Sunday night, and will likely do the same tonight, only this time, they should do it one player stronger.

The Antagonist:

Let's poke the Forum Blue and Gold bruises. The Lakers' loss on Sunday was their 56th of the season, one worse than the past season and a franchise worst. They've lost six in a row and 10 of 11 to their less-decorated LA counterparts. This year represents just the fifth time they have lost the season series. Oh, and Chris Paul, the point guard that David Stern plucked from the Lakers in that long-lamented non-trade, just chewed up and swallowed rookie guard Jordan Clarkson, the only bright spot in a dark and cloudy season. There is good news to be found here: the Lakers "lead" the Magic by three losses for the race down to the fourth lottery spot.

The Subplots

  • Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers' heavy statistical dominance over the Lakers hasn't changed in the two days since I wrote about it. I'll throw out something else here: the Lakers, playing within Byron Scott's outmoded offensive system, lead the NBA in field goal attempts between 10-14 feet, and are 2nd in attempts between 15-19 feet. They convert less than 40% of shots from those ranges. The Clippers are 5th in the league in shot attempts between 20-24 feet and 25-29 feet. They convert 41% and 36% from those ranges, respectively. That is the effectiveness of spacing, quantified.
  • The schedule. Three full days off before one last big game against the Grizzlies on Saturday night, with a higher playoff seed on the line.
  • Milestone win. The Clippers notched their 25th road win of the season on Sunday night, a franchise record.
  • A Key Bench Piece. According to hoopstats.com, the Clipper bench has averaged 30.7 points per game this season overall. In March, that average dropped to 25, and it's been just 26.3 in April. Watching Lester Hudson and Nate Robinson has been fun, but did we really want to rely on them in the playoffs? Jamal Crawford's return pushes the bench hierarchy back into place. Austin Rivers moves back to point guard, his best defensive position. Hedo Turkoglu returns to spot-up shooting, something at which he's been particularly effective (44.5% from three). And Spencer Hawes can continue disappointing us.
  • Playoff Seeding. ESPN's latest playoff matchup projection says that the Clippers' likeliest first round opponent is the Spurs. Excuse me while I go have a good cry.
  • One-Man Offense. Point #1 from this piece by LA Times Laker writer Eric Pincus discusses the Clippers heavy focus on stopping rookie Jordan Clarkson. Clearly, Clarkson is the most (only?) dangerous offensive player currently suiting up for the Lakers. My thoughts have been that Clarkson hasn't showed the ability to make plays as the focus of an offense, but rather just to take and make some of the plays given to him by a defense. That's a nice trait, but if Clarkson ever wants to progress beyond nice complementary player, he'd do well to work on burning the Clipper traps. It's not like there's much else to lose tonight.
  • Connections. We've covered these previously... Injured Laker Nick Young played a half-season for the Clippers during the 2011-2012 season... Clippers' starting forward Matt Barnes played two seasons for the Lakers... Lakers coach Byron Scott was originally drafted by the Clippers, but was traded to the Lakers in exchange for Norm Nixon in a multi-player trade before putting on the red, white, and blue... Got any more? Put 'em in the comments.
  • Wikipedia definition: Laker beer is the Brick Brewing Company's most successful brand. Brick Brewing claims to be Ontario's largest Canadian-base brewery.