Team Records: Portland (3-2) at LA Clippers (3-2)
Game Info: 12:30 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Clippers -4.5
Refs: Tom Washington, Eric Lewis, Eli Roe
The Skinny: The Blazers return to the court Saturday seeking a third straight win over a playoff contender as they travel to LA to play the Clippers. LA has not had the best of starts this year, barely squeaking out wins over lesser opponents and coming off a shellacking by Golden State in their last game. Too often this year the Clippers have looked disinterested and unfocused during games.
Last Season: The Blazers won the season series 2-1, with the home team winning all three games.
Projected Clippers Lineup:
PF-Blake Griffin (Oklahoma-5th Season)-24.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.2 APG.
SF-Matt Barnes (UCLA-12th Season)-6.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, .6 APG.
C-DeAndre Jordan (Texas A&M-7th Season)-9.6 PPG, 10 RPG, .6 APG
SG-JJ Redick (Duke-9th Season)-10.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.2 APG.
PG-Chris Paul (Wake Forest-10th Season)-15.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 10.4 APG.
Player to Watch: Blake Griffin (pictured at right)-From the first time I saw Blake Griffin play in college, it was easy to see he was something special. Griffin is simply a manchild, huge and hugely physical to boot. He is one of the most explosive players in the NBA in recent years and when you see him dunk it is often jaw dropping. Beyond his dunking ability, he has a decent if streaky midrange game and can even hit a 3 pointer or two. His defense is still a work in progress but even that has improved. Bottom line, Griffin is sure to amaze you.
Did You Know?: Clippers play by play announcer Ralph Lawler often cites “Lawler’s law”, which states that the first team to 100 points wins. Lawlers’s law has been correct 2,012 out of 2,179 times during Lawler’s career.
Song of the Day: “Candle In the Wind” by Elton John. I dedicate this preview in memory of Sandra Zickefoose, the Blazers fan who died after collpasing at Thursday’s game. This one is for her. Enjoy:
LA Clippers: Questionable-PF Glen Davis (Groin)
Ever since the blockbuster trade that brought Chris Paul to the Clippers a few years ago, the Clippers were rightly dubbed “Lob City” because Chris Paul is constantly throwing lob passes that result in spectacular dunks, usually by Jordan or Griffin. On offense, the Clippers mainly score via either three pointers, free throws or layups/dunks. As a result, the Clippers are one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA. Whether that entertaining style of play leads to winning basketball of the sort needed to make a deep playoff run is still under debate, especially after the Clippers again saw their season end too early. The Clippers have started slowly, which is probably not too concerning except that their rebounding, which has always been a rather bizarre weakness of a team with Griffin and Jordan, is even worse this year. Rebounding is, among many other things, an effort stat and if the Clippers don’t feel like playing very hard, its going to be difficult to see them becoming an elite team again.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit LA’s 3 point makes. The Clippers are going to get their dunks in but dunks alone will not win them games. If Portland can limit their 3 point effectiveness, they should win Thursday.
LA Clippers win if: They outrebound Portland. The Clippers were a middle of the road rebounding team last year while Portland was the best in the league in rebounds per game. If the Clippers can outrebound Portland they should win.