Team Records: Portland (24-27) at LA Clippers (29-21)
Game Info: 7:30 PM-TV on ESPN/CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game.
Vegas Line: Clippers -9.
Refs: Mike Callahan, Kevin Cutler, Eric Dalen
The Skinny: Following a home win over the Hornets last night the Blazers travel to LA to face a team that, depending on whom you listen to, might or might now be about to fire their head coach. The Clippers have won two straight but have still been less than stellar as of late. They will make the playoffs but anything more seems questionable.
Last Time they Met: The Blazers took a 15-point lead but then the physical effort required to play 3 games in 3 nights caught up with them and they fell apart, losing to the Clips at home.
Projected Clippers Lineup:
PF-Blake Griffin (Oklahoma-2nd Season) 20.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3 APG.
SF-Caron Butler- (Connecticut-10th Season)-12.2 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.4 APG.
C-DeAndre Jordan (Texas A&M-4th Season)-7.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, .3 APG
SG-Randy Foye (Villanova-6th Season)-9.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.2 APG.
PG-Chris Paul (Wake Forest-7th Season)-19.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 8.6 APG.
Player to Watch-Chris Paul (pictured at right)-When the Clippers managed to secure Chris Paul in the major trade of this offseason it appeared the oft mocked franchise was set for success. After all, Paul is arguably the best PG in the league, a ball handler extraordinaire who seemingly never loses his dribble and can find open teammates with even the tiniest bit of space. Add to that improved outside shooting and great instincts on defense (he leads the league in steals and has for a while now) and you have one phenomenal player. His major worry is physical, his knees have given him trouble at times and he has clearly managed his own workload so as not to overtax them when he doesn’t have to. Still, if healthy, Paul is arguably the key to LA’s longterm success.
Did You Know?: This game marks the Clippers’s 19th game this month and they will play their 20th Saturday vs. the Jazz, making them the first NBA team since the 1967 Cincinnati Royals to play 20 games in a single month.
Song of the Day: “The Wreck of the Edmnud Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfood-Critics say that coach Vinny Del Negro has lost his team and the players are driving it into the proverbial rocks. As a result this song seems appropriate. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder), PF Shawne Williams (Foot), PG Nolan Smith (Ear Infection).
LA Clippers: Out-PG Chauncey Billups (Achilles), PG Moe Williams (Toe).
Re-Evaluating the LA Clippers: Why the Struggles?
It wasn’t too long ago that the Clippers were flying, playing extremely well and competing with the best of the league on a regular basis. However as of late they have struggled mightily and the question is why. Certainly part of it may be that the players have quit on their coach, but it is more than that. In fact, looking at the statistics, it seems to come down to two things, poor defensive rebounding and struggles on offense. When the Clippers lose they score about 8 points less per game than when they win, have a rebounding rate of 8% lower and shoot nearly 5% worse. Their defense, other than rebounding, is pretty consistent no matter if they win or lose. So if the Clippers can get out of an offensive funk, they should be able to beat you most nights.
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 Friday.
LA Clippers win if: They outrebound Portland. The Clippers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. If they can nonetheless manage to outrebound Portland they should be able to win Friday.