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Game 79 Preview: Blazers at Clippers

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A Look at the Clippers

The Clippers have had a long, strange journey since we played them a couple of weeks ago.  Locked in a mortal dogfight with our old friends the Warriors for the 8th playoff seed, the Clips won three in a row, then lost three in a row, then won their last game to end up in a dead heat with Golden State at 38-40.  (The Clippers own the tiebreaker.)  The club may be playing a little randomly but this game is very, very important to them.  And it's safe to say for one night at least we will have plenty of fans over at GSoM.

Since the Clippers have been in this stressful stretch it has become go-time for their main stars.  Corey Maggette has been playing out of his ever-loving mind.  He's led the team in scoring four of the last five games.  And check out this line from last night's game against the Lakers (which the Clippers won):  43 minutes, 10-15 shooting, 2-3 from the three point line, 17-24 from the charity stripe, 39 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and a block.  Dang!  I've heard of showing up, but he showed up, kicked down the door, raided the fridge, grabbed a lounge chair, and watched a Gilligan's Island reunion show while dribbling crumbs all over the floor.  Elton Brand scored 32 and grabbed 12 rebounds himself in that game and has been making a major nuisance of himself all over the league.  These two are a devastating combo.  In addition they still have Kaman, Mobley, and Hart, plus Sam Cassell is healthy enough to play off the bench along with Tim Thomas and Blazer-killer Quinton Ross.

As usual the key to beating the Clippers is keeping them away from 100.  They seldom win when they score less and seldom lose when they score more.  (It's that pesky Ralph Lawler rule.)  They are going to try and ruin us on the inside, both in the post and with the drive.  If our big men get in foul trouble early I think you can kiss this game goodbye.  Jamaal Magloire should be a massive key.  We're going to have to be quicker and more alert than they and hope a few things bounce right.

What I'd Like To See:

Again with our entire frontcourt and then some out of action it's really impossible to formulate a plan of action that has a decent chance of working.  Get back in transition, don't let them have easy buckets, and rebound their misses seem to be the keys.  At least make them work for their points.  On offense we have to be aggressive and hope a few of our guys get hot in the same game.  Stay out of foul trouble, keep them off the line, and keep a man on Cat Mobley at the three point line.  

Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be."  Maybe tonight we should pretend to be good.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)