Lakers Preseason Game #5: The Clippers

Kurt —  October 18, 2009

NBA 2009 - Lakers Beat Clippers 88-85
The easy thing to say is that tonight is a regular season game one preview. Except that it is not.

Sure, the Lakers and Clippers play to open the season in 10 days, but this game will look nothing like that game. Reason number one: No Pau, Odom or Luke again tonight. Don’t think this is anything serious, it’s just preseason precautions.

Those absences do make the “who do the Lakers match up on Blake Griffin?” debate interesting. My guess (and it is early in the day, so it is just that) is the Lakers go with the same starting five as last night — Fisher, Brown, Kobe, Artest and Bynum — which leads to an interesting Artest on Griffin matchup in the post. Artest is strong but he’s not the strongest guy in that matchup, however he has a lot more savvy and tricks than the Clippers youngster. Could be fun.

By the way, don’t read too much into the funky starting lineup — preseason games are a good time to experiment. Again, if this was the season a couple of those guys would have played, but no reason to risk anything. Still, it will be interesting to see if Brown feels more comfortable at the two in this game, he was not last night and it impacted everything he did (including shooting). And he needs to clean up the post entry passes, which were pretty bad at times.

Andrew Bynum is doing great at getting deep position and getting the ball in close to the basket so far this season. He can again tonight, although Kaman has the size to keep him out in a way that nobody from the Kings or Warriors could. What Bynum can do is run, beat Kaman down the floor to his spot. One other thought: As Bynum continues to have success, other teams will start to double and send other defenders, and he is going to have to make the smart pass out. A couple of times last night he took contested shots when there were wide open guys for the short-corner three (for points scored, the most efficient shot in basketball). If it is him taking a contested 8 footer or kicking out for a wide open corner three, the correct choice is clear. He has shown he can pass in the past, I trust we will see that again.

It’s hard to know what is really going on through coaches’ minds in the preseason. With the Clippers, are they really thinking about starting Rasual Butler over Al Thorton (as was done last night)? Is Dunleavy resting Thorton, or trying to send the often inefficient, poor defending player a message? With the Lakers, the questions are less grand as the roles are somewhat predefined in this veteran team. But we will keep watching tonight and looking for clues.

Again a 7:30 tip off on Fox Sports (flip between this game and the Dodgers win) and on 710 ESPN. As for bloggers, Kevin at Clipper Blog is one guy I have stole stuff from in the past, continue to do so, and he is just one of my favorite basketball reads. Also, Clipsnation is quite good and deserves the readership.

On a separate note, if you read one other NBA thing today, make it this story about Bill Walton going back to Portland.