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Clippers-Suns Preview: Why Aren't You Watching Kobe Or The Warriors?

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The Clippers wrap up the regular season in Phoenix with little more to play for than pride.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
2015/2016 NBA Regular Season
vs.
Phoenix Suns (22-59)

Los Angeles Clippers (53-28)
April 13, 2016 — 7:30 PM PDT
Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix, AZ)
Prime Ticket, KEIB AM 1150
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
6-24 East 22-8
16-35 West 31-20
5-10 Division 9-6
13-27 Home 29-12
9-32 Road 24-16
9-33 .500 + 20-20
13-26 - .500 33-8
0-1 OT 5-1
2-8 L10 9-1
Projected Starters
Ronnie Price PG Pablo Prigioni
Devin Booker SG Jamal Crawford
P.J. Tucker SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Jon Leuer PF Paul Pierce
Alex Len C Cole Aldrich
Efficiency Stats ('15-'16)
100.8 (4th of 30) Pace 97.9 (17th of 30)
99.3 (28th of 30) OffRtg 106.4 (6th of 30)
107.2 (28th of 30) DefRtg 101.0 (5th of 30)
-7.9 (28th of 30) NetRtg 5.4 (5th of 30)
Injuries/Other
Eric Bledsoe (knee) out

Brandon Knight (sports hernia) out

T.J. Warren (foot) out

Archie Goodwin (ankle) out

Tyson Chandler (concussion) out

'15-16 Season Series (Clippers lead 2-0)
Date
Venue
Final
Clips Nation Recap
NBA Box Score
11/2/2015
Los Angeles
Clippers 102, Suns 96
Recap
Box Score
11/12/2015
Phoenix
Suns 118, Clippers 104
Recap
Box Score
2/22/2016
Los Angeles
Clippers 124, Suns 84
Recap
Box Score
4/12/2016
Phoenix
Tonight


The Big Picture:

So are you choosing to watch this game over Kobe's farewell and the Warriors' try for history? Based on absolutely no inside information at all, I'm assuming that even the Clippers staying home won't. I guess there's some meaning in every regular season game. Some fans presumably paid some amount of money to watch this in person. And even if a sizable contingent of star Clippers is sitting out, the remaining players are still professionals with outsized levels of competitiveness. Those on the floor will want to win. So that win, while virtually meaningless in the standings, will mean something to somebody. And if you choose to watch this game over potential and actual history, I'm betting it means something to you too.

The Antagonist:

It's unknown how many games remain for the Clippers this 2015-2016 season. One thing's for sure, though: this is it for the Suns. And this team may look substantially different (again) in a few months. Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and T.J. Warren will return from injury to form a nice young perimeter core with sweet-shooting and sweeter-faced Devin Booker. Old man and one-time presumed DeAndre Jordan replacement Tyson Chandler and his remaining 3 years and $39 million contract could be sent elsewhere. Earl Watson, who has done an admirable interim coaching job following the ousting of Jeff Hornacek, should be made permanent, but bets are off with Robert Sarver in charge. And there could be a shiny young blue chip rookie in the rotation too. Phoenix is looking at having the fourth-most lottery balls in June, pending the games tonight. The sun may be setting on this season, but brighter days may be coming.

The Subplots:

  • Comparison of Key Metrics. May I put a question mark here? The Clippers are expected to rest their starters, and there simply isn't enough data for the expected lineup to draw meaningful conclusions. So let's cheat and play around with a small sample. On Friday in Utah, with a similarly reserve-heavy lineup, the Clippers picked off 13 steals against the Jazz. Cole Aldrich led the way with 5. Since December 27th, when Suns' starting point guard Eric Bledsoe went down for the season, guess who leads the league in turnover ratio. Yup, it's Phoenix, and with a bullet. In fact, they're as far away from #29 Utah as the Jazz are from #19 Philadelphia.
  • Schedule. Up in the air, appropriately enough. The first round opponent won't be known until tonight. With the LA Kings scheduled to play Game 2 of their opening playoff series on Saturday night at STAPLES Center, it's expected that the Clippers will play their first postseason game sometime Sunday.
  • [Editor's Note] Second-Round Draft Pick: The Clippers are going to finish 6th in the NBA in overall record, meaning that their second round draft pick will be 54th.  That will allow them to swap picks with Brooklyn, who is presently third-to-last in the league, giving them the 33rd overall pick.  The Suns are just one game ahead of the Nets, and with both teams playing tonight, an extra Suns win would cement the Nets' (and therefore Clippers') pick slot at 33.  A Suns loss, combined with a Nets win over a probably-resting Toronto team, would lead to a coin flip to determine who gets pick 33 and who gets 34.--[Lucas Hann 4/13/2016 13:20 EST]
  • For the Suns' point of view, head over to Bright Side Of The Sun.