Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  April 4, 2007

Why Worry? There seems to be some chatter out in Laker land about who would be the best first-round matchup for the Lakers, San Antonio or Phoenix? (Or, Dallas, although that is an outside chance.)

It doesn’t matter, right now the Lakers can’t beat any of them in a seven game series.

They need to clean up their own house first, and that has to start on the defensive end. All you need to know is the Nuggets shot 51.2% eFG% and had an offensive rating of 107 (points per 100 possessions). That is simply bad defense by the stats, but you didn’t need the stats to see what was going on. Iverson broke Smush and everyone else down off the dribble, there were slow rotations. There were flashes of good defense, but nothing consistent.

Play like that again tonight, lose tonight. Play like that in the playoffs, whomever the opponent, and be golfing soon.

Why not Odom? Commenter kwame a. asked this question last night:

Why don’t we post Odom up and run the offense through him? I don’t understand why we don’t utilize this weapon?

It’s a great question, Odom is a beast in the post then if you put a stronger guy on him to slow him he can drag the guy out to the perimeter and blow past him. As a whole, the Lakers have done a poor job of late of trying to exploit mismatches — the win against Sacramento being the exception (they pounded the ball inside on the small and weak defensive front line of the Kings). Exploiting mismatches (and adjustments game to game) is what playoff basketball is all about.

Ya gotta have Hart. With Livingston and Cassell down, you’d think the Clippers would be hurting at the point. But veteran Jason Hart, scooped up off waivers, has turned in solid performances for the Clips.

Hart is shooting a solid 47.4%, but knows his role here is not to score so he has averaged just 8.3 points per game in the last 10. He’s also pitching in about four assists and two steals a game. His +/- has been 0 so far — not great (like Cassell) but not hurting the team either. Which for a guy picked up off the scrap heap forced to play 30 minutes a night, is pretty good.

The other guy who now has the ball in his hands more is Correy Maggette, and he has responded by shooting 49.5% (eFG%) and getting to the line nine times a game in the last 10 games. The result is 19.3 points and 5 assists per game in that span.

And the result of all that is the Clippers are 7-3 in those 10 games. And they are building momentum toward the playoffs.

Read Clipper Blog. I can’t put it more simply than that, Kevin would get my vote for best NBA team blog.