Playoff time. While this is not technically a playoff game, it should be in intensity. For the Clippers this is basically a must win. For the Lakers, win and you guarantee a playoff spot and start to build a little momentum for the post season.
VladRad is back. Snowboarding legend Vladimir Radmanovic is expected to suit up for the Lakers tonight, and considering how short they are on big bodies that can defend in the paint (Radman is a decent post defender) Iâ€™d expect him to get a little run.
So is Cassell. The Clippers struggled when Sam Cassell went out, at least until Jason Hart started picking up some of that slack. Now Cassell is back and with Hart combine to be the point guard tag team for the Clips as they try to reach the playoffs.
Can the Lakers defend the paint? This answer to this simple question is basically going to determine the game.
Last meeting the Clippers pounded the ball inside early, and the combination of Bynum, Odom and Turiaf could not stop them. Kaman finished with 17 points (shooting 3 of 4 in the first quarter), 14 boards, four blocks and was +6. The late 7-0 run the Clippers used to put the game away basically started when he re-entered in the fourth quarter. Brandâ€™s stat line wasnâ€™t great but he passed well out of the post and that set up others. Their inside play cleared the way for Cutino Mobley and Corey Maggette to slash to the hoop later and play key roles late. (By the way, my arms look just like Maggetteâ€™s.)
Bynum needs to step up defensively tonight and not let Kaman dominate the paint. Odom (with help) can do a pretty good job on Brand, but if he passes to a wide-open Kaman (or Mobley or Hart or Maggette orâ€¦.) then the Clips will have a pretty easy time on offense.
Other things to watch for: Smush sat late in favor of Farmar in the last meeting, if Smush comes out in one of his funks I think Phil will be quick with the hook.
What do you think the under/over on Britney Spears references will be on TNT tonight? How much of the first quarter do we miss because of TNT staying with the first game?
This should, should, be a rocking Staples Center tonight. It will be if the Lakers can give the fans something to get behind.