Preview and Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Zephid —  January 4, 2013

Records: Lakers 15-16 (11th in the West), Clippers 25-8 (2nd in the West)
Offensive Ratings: Lakers 106.4 (6th in the NBA), Clippers 106.9 (5th in the NBA)
Defensive Ratings: Lakers 102.7 (18th in the NBA), Clippers 97.8 (3rd in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups:
Lakers: Steve Nash, Darius Morris, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Clippers: Chris Paul, Willie Green, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Injuries:
Lakers: Steve Blake (out), Chris Duhon (game-time decision)
Clippers: Grant Hill (out), Chauncey Billups (out)

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers are now 3-2 since the return of Steve Nash, with three quality wins against Golden State (comeback), New York (top 10 team), and Portland (blowout), an understandable loss on the 2nd night of a back-to-back on the road in Denver (classically one of the hardest back-to-backs to make), and a head-scratching loss to a 76ers team still without the former Laker, Andrew Bynum, as their anchor.  There’s a lot of talk about the Lakers being old, lacking energy, and needing to play through it, but when your team shoots 3-22 from the three point line and misses 11 free throws in a four point game, it’s tough to blame anything except a lack of shot-making.  Still, despite some minor setbacks, the Lakers have looked like a much improved team with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol back in the fold.  Howard is clearly still not 100%, but then again, he wasn’t supposed to play until now when we first traded for him in the summer.

Against the Clippers, the Lakers will need everyone to have a good game.  Pau and Dwight cannot shoot a combined 3-19 if the Lakers want even a chance to win this game, and the defense cannot give up the type of easy scores that plagued them against the 76ers and numerous other opponents.  The Clippers are a young, athletic team, and like most teams these days, will try to beat the Lakers in transition, even after a made basket.  It will be paramount that the Lakers maintain defensive balance, and that the bigs hustle back to defend the paint.

The Clippers Coming in: The Clippers, recent owners of a 17 game win-streak, have now lost their last two games by a combined 35 points.  However, over that stretch they only faced one team that was more than 2 games over .500, and that was the Chicago Bulls.  All the while, it’s still impressive that they managed 17 straight wins over NBA-level competition, and the Lakers would be more than happy to go on a streak half that length right now.

Despite the fact that the Clippers are generally known for their flashy, highlight-reel offense run by Chris Paul, it is really their defense that is propelling them to success.  They are currently 3rd in defensive efficiency, no doubt bolstered by the heavy on-ball pressure of Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe.  Both are in the top 20 in the league in steals per game, with Paul leading the league with a crazy 2.67 steals per game. While Griffin and Jordan are not the best defensive bigs in the league (understatement), their speed and athleticism allows them to hedge hard and recover quickly, pairing well with a ball-hawking perimeter defense.

The true strength of the Clippers, in my mind, is truly their depth.  According to 82games.com, the 2nd most played Clipper 5-man unit is a lineup of Bledsoe-Crawford-Barnes-Odom-Turiaf, a 5-man bench unit which is a killer defensive squad.  From this excellent article by Kevin Arnovitz talking Clippers defense, the second unit is one of the big reasons why the Clippers have improved so much on defense.  On offense, leading that unit with 16.5 ppg is Jamal Crawford, arguably the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.  Shutting down Crawford is the key to stopping the Clippers bench attack.  If Crawford is allowed to break his man down 1 on 1, it will lead to open shots for Barnes (which he is hitting this year), as well as interior passing lanes for Bledsoe, Odom, and Turiaf.

Keys to the game: The Clippers are a fairly average rebounding team, so the Lakers may be able to take advantage of that on the offensive and defensive boards.  However, offensive rebounding opportunities need to be done so with floor balance, because the Clippers will be looking to get out and beat the Lakers down court for an easy score.  Like I said, a lot of things needs to break their way for the Lakers to win this game.  Kobe claims that the Clippers are championship contenders, and they very much look the part.  However, if the Lakers hit their shots and play defense at their maximum capacity, they can hang with anyone.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm PST start on TWC Sportsnet and nationally on ESPN.

Update: As is being reported by multiple sources, MWP will start at SF tonight.  This should shift the Lakers back to their ideal starting 5 of Nash, Bryant, MWP, Gasol, and Howard.

-Zephid

Follow me on Twitter @ZephidFB_G


Zephid

Posts

219 responses to Preview and Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. so

    who should shot more???????????????????????

    0

  2. love to C the comments of Gasol’s DEFENDERS!

    0

  3. Well that was actually a pretty good game by the Lakers (more specifically Kobe, Howard, and Nash plus Hill’s always welcomed energy), since quite honestly I was expecting a blowout. I believe the Lakers actually won the turnover battle, which allowed them to keep within striking reach for the length of the game plus give the Clippers trouble at times in the half-court offense.

    The difference in defense between Howard and Pau on Blake was quite apparent, to say the least.

    I just wished they did this every game as they’d be in the thick of the standings had they won the games they’re supposed to win, as opposed to showing up like this only against tough opponents.

    0

  4. by the way, Gasol dismissed that Clippers are great team

    he really did show how to approach THIS game!

    0

  5. Kobe for 102

    it is all what is left for this great season!

    0

  6. So it is pretty clear at this point. This Lakers team is still pretty weak, even with Nash and Gasol. I think we can end the whole, “lets just be patient and wait it out.” I will continue to say it. 32 games into the season and this Lakers team is fighting for the 8th seed! 2 games below 500. Building your team around old allstar players is not the answer. The twin tower approach is not the answer. We need young athletic talent that can play consistent on both sides on the floor. A trade for Gasol is needed, or this season is over.

    0

  7. Kobe shoots a lot because he is a SHOOTING GUARD, Jordan is Jordan but he shooted a ton too, tonight we got what we expected and more from Kobe he had to score and guard CP he had a good game but he had 30 on 25 shots, Dwight and Nash got a double double but Nash needs to be more agressive especially knowing the hole the team is in. Dwight foul out was stupid but not as stupid and ridiculous as being a 7 footer have a almost gimme offensive rebound falling into your hands for a chance to redeem yourself after a Kwame level performance and slap the >€+%#}*%#%^*^##% ball out of bounds. Pau should be done in LA. I dont care what we get back. I know MDA put him away from his confort zone but he needs to adjust. And the times he try to post up he looked pathetic and let not talk about his ” defense” and how he got back on defense. I love the big spaniard but he should be done as a Laker

    0

  8. 5-25 from Pau,metta,meeks (though meeks got 14pts at least). Doesn’t matter who the coach is – when two of your starters play that poorly it puts you in a tough spot. I think though MDA n Mitch have to sit down and put together a plan and a dead on date where they either pull the plug on the season or they make a trade sooner than later.

    And before anyone starts saying that VDN is such a better coach – just remember that the clippers went thru 3 years worth of questioning their coach before this year.

    0

  9. Hard to beat a good team like the Clippers when your frontcourt goes missing. Nash being back hasn’t exactly done wonders for Gasol like some suggested it would.

    What’s his trade value at now?

    0

  10. So if we don’t make the playoffs there are some good 1st round draft choices out there!

    Oh that’s right they gave them away.

    Never mind.

    0

  11. You know what, I don’t think this team is going anywhere. Dwight is what he is — not a franchise player, healthy or not. Pau has permanently disappeared. Nash is not going to be dominant. D’antoni is not going to turn into a coach who knows how to maximize the talents. Mitch is out of rabbits to pull out of hats.

    So I’m just going to watch for Kobe now. I’m rooting for him to win the scoring title and set a personal best for efficiency. Guy is amazing.

    0

  12. They wont give up on the season, uhh this is the Lakers not the Kings or the Raptors you wont make the playoffs 57 of 62 seasons by giving up seasons , but they need to get rid of Pau and get some talent especially on defense or at least a a couple of shooters, i would make Pau ride the pine and start Hill, if he is not that hurt, he brings energy and hustle at least, but like Nash himself said after this week we will know where this team is for real.

    0

  13. Funny thought. Everyone was so worried about how Kobe would adjust to Nash running the show. Would he share the ball…would he be able to play off the ball…would he allow Nash to have the keys to the offense. Well, Nash has helped Kobe have an incredible year so far and Kobe has done an incredible job of adapting his game and scoring more off of cuts and spot ups.

    Who would have thought that Kobe would benefit from Nash more than Howard or Pau?

    0

  14. Wow, did Meeks just say that maybe he needs to get up more shots before and after the game? I was really disappointed in the last game when Howard, Duhon, Nash, Darius, Blake and Hill were the only players out there putting up extra shots.

    The difference in the game tonight is that Green scored 5 points on uncontested shots on 5-7. While our shooter went 5-21. Meeks put up 21 shots! Almost more than Nash and Howard combined. Then for him to make the comment that he THINKS he should put up more shots before and after the game…unbelievable.

    Nash must become more assertive on offense. I’d much rather he miss 5-21 than Meeks or Metta and Pau.

    Every time Hill gets on a roll he get an injury of some kind. Understandable, considering how aggressive he plays.

    I still think the Lakers will build off this game going forward in the next 4 games. I like them to play games with no rest they seem to play better.

    The Lakers could have given up when they were down by 18 but they fought back, so they obviously care.

    Let’s go Lakers.

    0

  15. is the sky falling?

    0

  16. Nash: 3/4. Meeks 3/13.

    Wow. Seriously, I know Nash is Nash but we just can’t afford to have him take just 4 shots in 36 mins.

    0

  17. @kenoak – if they can find a way to get thru this and deal w some of the defensive issues, I could see hem both extending each others careers cause the fit together so well : natural scorer/passer. kobe and Nash have been on the same wave length ever since the trade for him to come here became possible. They’re the only two guys who are focused enough and have the bball iq, talent, and the actual competitive drive to make it happen. Those two respect eachother and I don’t think any body else puts in more work than they do into maintaining themselves and being ready to play. Even if Nash isn’t dour and moody like Kobe – he’s still a real leader in a serious way that Dwight certainly isn’t right now. Not surprising that they got it figured out

    As for people who call for Nash to be dominant – you obviously haven’t followed his game or him at all. His mo is to insure everyone gets theirs and tries to make it as easy as possible. If other guys aren’t hitting shots or being threats – it makes it near impossible for him to get his looks because they then switch everything and crowd and take away his shot. When Nash has scored big in the past – he’s also usually had double digit assists as well – as other guys hitting shots, frees him up to go one on one more. But w pau, metta etc… Providing nothing tonight – there was no lanes for him to drive tonight as everyone just collapsed and filled everything. Chris paul had a lot more room to work w/o having everyone elses guys coming over to help all the time.

    As for Dwight – this insistentence that he has that he has to be the man offensively and being force fed to start the game just killed this team at the start. No rhythm, everyone standing around watching him miss gimmes, and generally just making shitty decisions. His bball iq is nowhere what it takes – he killed LA’s chances w that stupid foul on cp at the end (the one time there was legit rotation coming over to block/help out – not only putting cp on line when lakers were only 2 down – but also fouling out.

    0

  18. @form – i wouldn’t say its falling, but they gotta do something. Pau can complain about not being used offensively – but when the lakers are still the 6th best offesnive team in the league – they obviously don’t need his offensive contributions – thats why systems complaints etc… from Magic about mis using Pau is so bloody annoying and misleading. For all the offensive issues – they don’t need his offense. however – he could bring something better than combined 3-18 he’s brought to the table the past 2 games. and only 4 rebounds tonight. Can’t blame it all on offensive positioning as he only grabbed 4 def rebs. He’s giving them nothing right now.

    Nash +12 in 36 minutes 12 pts, plus 10 assists on 3/4 shooting plus 3 freethrows.
    Kobe +6 in 44 38 pts on 15 for 25 whcih aint too shabby only quibble is
    1-6 on 3’s but he had to force some shots

    Dwight +5 in 36 mins Got an ugly 21 pts (his game was a lot uglier than the box score
    indicates) but at least grabbed 15 rebounds even if
    he makes dumb decisions at bad times.

    Pau -20 in 27mins only 4 rebs (no off), only 2 pfs, and 2 assists. Shot 1-6 and was
    brutal and none effective

    I know metta and meeks had crappy games too – but at least there was effort and they were trying to do something out there – a least they bring that every night. there is nothing stopping Pau from playing defense, or driving to the hole, or posting up closer. He’s doing nothing to make a force of himself out there even when given the chance. MDA hasn’t tod him he needs to stay out at the 3 line, but you watch Pau’s body language and he’s just got no appetite to fight for position or make any sort of real effort. he just drifts out there. frustrating as hell because we all know he can play as evidenced by this summer.

    0

  19. Nash is a smart player. He mostly shot the ball when he had open looks, dependent on how they were guarding him. Meeks gets more shots because that’s something the defense is giving up. Meeks is supposed to play that role. That’s why all five guys are important on the floor.

    0