When I looked up Basketball Reference’s season predictor at the beginning of the season, it said that the Clippers would win only 20 games. At the time I found it hard to believe because the Clips didn’t seem like they would be in line to take a 9 game step back with regards to their record. 12 games into the season, that 20 games is looking pretty accurate, maybe even generous.
Strange that after this start, Basketball Reference now thinks the Clippers will win 22 games, but they probably know more than me.
If the Clippers are going to turn it around, they need to do it soon, before the season becomes a tragicomedy like the Nets’ season last year. They’ve only played 12 games and, even though they’ve only one once, they could end the season with just a standardly bad year, instead of a horrifically bad one. And before you say that they won’t get Harrison Barnes if that happens, remember only these 4 teams have had the worst record and gotten the first pick since 1990: the Magic in 2004, the Cavs in 2003, the Sixers in 1996 and the Nets in 1990. Tanking is not good.
So the Clips need to start with a win in Indiana tonight, which they can do, provided the Pacers doesn’t reach NBA Jam levels of heat like they did last Friday when they posted a 54 point third quarter and made 20 consecutive shots before Josh McRoberts missed a shot to end the quarter.
Some keys to tonight’s matchup:
– Danny Granger. The Clippers struggled yet again with the opposing team’s small forward last night, when they let Michael Beasley not only score 33, but hit the game winning shot. Granger is just as capable, if not more so. He’s a better passer and shooter than Beasley, so it could spell trouble.
– Roy Hibbert. Blake Griffin has struggled against long big man this year, notably against Tyson Chandler. While Hibbert is nowhere near the athlete that Chandler is, he’s a very capable shot blocker (almost 3 a game) and interior presence.
– Turnovers. We knew this before the season started that this would be a problem and with the young players, it persists. Eric Bledsoe has to be a bit more patient (like Collison is learning to be) and Eric Gordon needs to cut down on those unforced turnovers.
– Communication. If you’re sensing a pattern for the Clippers (TOs, Opposing SF play, 3rd quarters, etc.), you’re right on. One of the reasons that they haven’t won is that they haven’t sufficiently improved any of their weakness to win games. Communication is no different. This year’s Pacers team plays more Pick and Roll than in past years and they have the fast paced offense, so there is going to be a lot of switching or hedging necessary for the Clippers to hold the Pacers offense under wraps.
Note: I’ll be Daily Diming tonight, if you care to join up to chat.