Tonight, the Clippers take on the Timberwolves at STAPLES Center. For all the details, go check out Johnny Stark's full game preview. For some supplementary pre-game content, I was able to ask Dave Pasch, the play-by-play announcer for tonight's ESPN broadcast, a few questions. Check them out below:
Lucas Hann: The Clippers are clearly a tier behind San Antonio and Golden State, but they've held fourth quarter leads in each game against those two teams this season, and beaten both in the playoffs each of the last two years. If the Clippers peak at the right time (and maybe add a piece on the wing at the trade deadline), do you see them as having serious upset potential against one (or both) of those elite squads?
Dave Pasch: The potential is there if Blake Griffin returns at 100 percent health for the playoffs.They need Griffin to have a shot against Golden State, San Antonio & OKC. Also, the small lineup the Clippers have employed without Griffin gives them options to match up differently with those teams. They need more scoring from the small forward position, but it might be tough to find that at the trade deadline, unless they part with one of their stars.
LH: What's your perspective on the Clippers' recent success without Blake Griffin? Most of our staff and commenters are firm believers that this team will just get even better when Griffin returns--do you agree with that, or are you in the "trade Blake" camp where a lot of the national media seems to be?
DP: I think Blake Griffin is a great player, who was terrific in the playoffs last year when the Clippers beat the Spurs. However, what took place with him punching his friend, and team employee, has to be a concern going forward. Does this bely a bigger issue with Blake? Only the Clippers know the answer. I do think they'll be better when he returns, but will it be good enough to get to the conference finals? If the Clippers don't make that step this year, I wouldn't be surprised if they then decide to break up their nucleus.
LH: The Minnesota Timberwolves are a talented young team still developing a core. While they aren't on the Clippers' level this season, they certainly have some incredible prospects on the roster, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine. What young Minnesota player should Clippers fans look out for in tonight's game?
DP: Karl Anthony Towns should win rookie of the year, and has played better as the season has gone along. Wiggins can score, but needs to improve his shooting. Zach LaVine is a talented young player, and they have other good young pieces on this roster. I'm surprised their record isn't better, especially after they beat some good teams during their 8-8 record through the first 16 games of the season.
LH: As a well-known broadcaster, you've worked in a ton of sports and covered a ton of teams. Which sport or team do you enjoy broadcasting the most?
DP: I love all of the sports I get to call! No doubt that there is something special about covering the NBA because of its star power. Plus, no other pro sport provides broadcasters and fans with this close of a view every night of the greatest athletes in the world. Because of that, the NBA is a theatric performance , as much as it is a game.
Dave Pasch, along with analysts and former point guards Mark Jackson and Jay Williams, will join to call the Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Clippers game tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Williams joins the NBA on ESPN team as part of ESPN's the Crossoverâwhen ESPN combines NBA and College Hoops commentators for NBA and college games.