Just like a month ago, the Clippers find themselves squaring off against the Phoenix Suns in a post-food coma game. Last time it was the day after Thanksgiving, this time is the day after Christmas. And while they don’t have to go on the road for this matchup, they do tip off at noon, which can feel like an ungodly hour to play. If they retain their same attitude and habits, it’ll probably result in another 42 point first quarter and trail-the-whole-way loss again. But this team, if nothing else, does seem to learn from their many mistakes (with exception of free throw shooting). The opponent three point shooting percentage has been slowly falling since it topped out at 42%, they’re playing better defense (holding the last 9 of 12 opponents under 100 points), and the offense has been steadily improving.
Even their record has been showing signs of life. In the Clippers first 14 games they won only once, but in their next 16 games, they’ve won 7 times. While it might not be quick enough for many, it is, at the very least, progress. Because of that, the Clippers probably won’t suffer the same abysmal play to start the game, but that doesn’t exactly guarantee the win.
Keys to the game:
– Baron Davis v. Steve Nash. Last game saw Eric Bledsoe starting for the Clippers and while the Clippers did lose, but it was Gordon that saw the most time guarding Nash. He held him to 14 points on 4 for 12 shooting. The line-up has changed, can Baron do the same?
– Eric Gordon. He’s been held under 20 points in 4 of the last 5 games, with the notable exception being his 36 point eruption against the T-Wolves. With Baron at the helm of the offense, can Eric find the middle ground between this year’s and last year’s play?
– Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez. Neither of them played in the last matchup against the Clippers and both provide a huge upgrade in interior defense. Last game saw Channing Frye, Hakeem Warrick, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Barron roaming the paint, far from imposing. Blake is so good that it might not matter, but he’ll have considerably stronger and more capable opposition this time around.