Who’s excited? Finally, the Clippers kicked the winless-on-the-road monkey off their back last night after a thorough trouncing of the Detroit Pistons. It’s not exactly the most impressive team to beat, the Pistons have floundered for the last few years and this year own a 8-19 record this year. But as poorly as the Clippers have played, they’ll take the win.
I thought the key last night, other than letting Blake Griffin completely manhandle an undersized front court, was to replace Baron Davis in the starting lineup with Eric Bledsoe. As this team is currently configured, the chemistry just fits better with Baron working with the second unit.
As of right now the second unit is mostly comprised of spot up shooters. Brian Cook, Rasual Butler, and (for now) Al-Farouq Aminu don’t have a great ability to create their own shot. However, if gifted open looks, they can drain open looks. But Eric Bledsoe hasn’t figured out the pure point guard position yet, and he doesn’t get players their best looks. He’s not yet capable of leading a team, mostly getting his assists on fast breaks or penetration, not leading simple half-court sets. Baron, however, does get players good looks. He may be a below average shooter, but he won’t have to be responsible for shooting, just creating. It will give him a clearly defined role that may allow him to showcase his talents.
As for the first unit, it doesn’t need another ball-handler like Baron. They need someone who can take advantage of opportunities when Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin pass out. They need a third scorer. With Bledsoe breaking out of his 3 point shooting slump, he is a prime candidate to be the third scoring option on the starting unit.
I’ll be interested to see how the Clippers use their little bit of momentum against the Bulls. They could have found the one bit that will jump start them into a better season, or they could find themselves still overmatched against the better teams.
Keys for tonight:
- Boozer v. Griffin. Neither one are exactly defensive specialists, so it could be a high scoring matchup. Boozer plays a more reserved, traditional game compared to Blake’s high-flying powergame, but that doesn’t mean he can’t put up great numbers. I will say that Blake’s improvement on defense has been noticeable in the last few games, Brian Cook no longer looks to be his defensive replacement, but that’s not saying a whole lot.
- Contain Derrick Rose. I think VDN should think about switching Bledsoe off and put Gordon on Rose. Shooting guard Keith Bogans may be the worst starting player in the NBA, so it will give Bledsoe the opportunity to gamble while putting the Clippers best perimeter defender on Rose.
- Watch for Kyle Korver. He’s the exact type of player that can really make the Clippers pay. He isn’t a main focus, hides in corners and regularly makes corner threes. It could spell trouble. The Clippers have been much better defending the three of late, they finally have the opponents’ 3 point shooting percentages for the season under 40 percent, but Korver will test their defense.