A Look at the Clippers
There are only a few things you need to know about the Clippers:
1. Zach Randolph has been suspended for two games for conduct detrimental to the team. In case you haven't heard, that's code for "Glug-Glug-Glug. VROOM! VROOM! Wee-oooo. Wee-oooo." This is his first night back and we could see a big effort from him.
2. Despite that, Al Thorton has a shoulder injury and might not play the rest of the year.
3. The Clippers have not won a game when scoring fewer than 107 points since January 17th.
4. The chances of the Clippers scoring 107 against the Blazers tonight should be small unless the Blazers decide to aid and abet them.
That said, the Blazers did just win a tough, emotional game. This game is on the road. The Clippers have beaten us already this season. And the Clips did beat the Kings by scoring 109 (and holding Sacramento to 80) last night.
Conclusion: Whatever the circumstances may be, we need to play better than the Kings.
Los Angeles fields four guys besides Zach who could be potentially dangerous. Eric Gordon is still working his young-guy scoring voodoo, though he's not seen much success against the Blazers. Baron Davis can be scary no matter how rotten of a year he's having. Chris Kaman always seems to annoy Portland. However Marcus Camby is out and with all due respect to Brian Skinner's 21-point performance against Sacramento, there aren't a ton of attractive, productive guys coming off of the Clipper bench. They did, after all, lose six games straight before beating the Kings. There's a reason why.
The Clippers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. They're one of the worst offensive teams in the league. They've got rebounders and the Blazers will have to be careful not to give up too many offensive boards.
Keys to the Game:
Not just physically, of course, but show up to play Blazer basketball. The team has got to realize that as far as seeding implications and the standings this game is EXACTLY as meaningful and important as last night's game was. There is literally no difference between the two. A loss here at least halfway wastes the win last night.
The Blazers need to show up early, dominate this game, and build up enough of a lead that the Clippers just can't find enough offensive to get back.
The Clippers don't give up a ton of fastbreak points but they won't have the heart or the depth to keep running back if you push hard. The Clippers do give up a ton of points in the paint and Portland should press the advantage inside.
It is vitally important not to let this game come down to one or two possessions, as the Clips have some guys who have won in the past. Besides, any given team can hit a couple of shots. If we get down double-digits in this game or it's close in the fourth we're not doing our jobs.
The playoffs are not here yet. This game stands in the way of the best results Portland can achieve. That should be all the motivation we need.
Check out the sound of slow, bubbling misery at ClipsNation.
Jersey Contest participants don't forget to enter this game. The field will be narrowed afterwards.