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Game 25 Preview: Clippers vs. Blazers

OK!  So L.A. is coming to town!  The place is going to be rocking, the stars will be ballin’, and we’ll get to see a titanic matchup between two great…what?  Oh.  It’s the Clippers.


(For those who watch The Soup on E! this is the precise difference between “It’s Miley!” and “It’s Madonna.”)


A Look at the Clippers  (Do I have to?)


Even with a 4-17 record so far this season you can always count on a tough game against the Clippers because of the low post offense and hard-hitting defense of forward Elton Brand.  He’s a talented veteran who…wait a minute, somebody’s handing me a note here.  Brand…gone?  Replaced by Zach Randolph.  Huh.  OK.  Scratch that hard-hitting defense.  But the Clippers always have a chance because of the chiseled athleticism of Corey Maggette who gives the Blazers no end of…what now?  Maggette gone too?!?  Replaced by Baron Davis?  OK, tell me the Clippers have a sports psychologist on the payroll somewhere because between Davis and Randolph that dude is going to get a workout.  So anyway, the third leg of the formidable stool that is the Clippers is center Chris Kaman, who brings a surprising amount of…NO!  GET AWAY FROM ME!  What the Sam-Doodle do you mean strained arch in his foot?  Then who the heck is playing for this team?  This is a disaster!  Why don’t they just go out and get Ricky Davis while they’re at it and seal their fate?  Oh…they DID!  Of course they did!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Oh well, as useless as he is in generating wins at least he’ll score 16 a night for them.  Why are you looking at me that way?


OK, I’m not even going to try anymore.  Which is appropriate, because that’s pretty much what the Clippers do.  Marcus Camby rebounds, Al Thornton jumps out of the building, Zach and Baron score (Zach’s actually an offensive machine for them right now), but they all fit together like Brett Favre and the opera, they don’t have anybody left who can come off the bench and play, and at some point they just throw up their hands and lose another one.  Sometimes they have to find a way to do it.  Sometimes it falls on their heads like an avalanche.  Either way losing has made like the in-laws and taken up semi-permanent abode in Clipperland.  And it ain’t pretty.


If you need a more technical explanation than that (and God knows why you’d care unless you’re a sadist [Portland] or masochist [Clipper Fan]) they don’t score enough (having topped 100 only 6 times this season), they don’t get enough extra points from threes and free throws, and they have trouble with point-of-attack defense, not to mention guarding the perimeter as a whole.  Continuity is a huge issue here.  There aren’t a ton of team players there to begin with, but even if they wanted to be a cohesive unit they haven’t played together enough to manage it.


Nevertheless individually the Clippers have some players who could cause Portland problems.  Marcus Camby is a rebounding demon who also has the face-up jumper to pull your big men outside.  Zach Randolph’s scoring ability needs no re-telling on a Blazers site.  Baron Davis has been on fire the last three games and is always a tough matchup for Portland.  You could easily see all of the Blazer counterparts of these players having trouble with them.  But even all together with young star Thornton thrown in that shouldn’t be enough to overcome Portland as long as the Blazers remember to play their game.  To wit…


Keys to the Game


1.  Don’t let this devolve into a series of mano-a-mano battles.  This isn’t Zach against Lamarcus, Baron against the Blazer point guards.  Rotate hard to help, gang rebound, and share the ball on offense.  No matter who wins the individual matchups the Clippers should not be able to beat the Blazers as a whole.


2.  Speaking of…second unit, transform into your robot parts, lock together, form a huge behemoth, and squash them like a bug.  The Blazers’ advantage if both bench units play each other should be astronomical.


3.  Fix that leaky transition defense!  Don’t let the Clippers get any undeserved points.  They can’t score enough of the other kind to matter!


4.  That goes for turnovers too.  No need to be sloppy.


5.  Please, Greg, please.  They’re small.  You’re big.  Get down low and demand the ball!  I know they’re looking you away when you post.  Get lower and demand harder!  Dunk that ball right over anyone who tries to guard you.


6.  Come out with energy, put them down early.  These games are so much easier when the crowd is rocking, the Blazers are alley-ooping left and right, and the opponent doesn’t think they have a chance.


Final Thoughts


What do you want to bet Zach has a big game anyway?


Check out the Clippers’ point of view at ClipsNation.


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--Dave (