It was only a matter of time. With the perfect rhyme nickname for Blake, QuakeGriffin.com has launched with all your Blake Griffin glory dunk needs. Yes, yes, it even has news that Blake has announced to join in the (formerly) culturally significant basketball spectacle that is the dunk contest.
Regardless of whether you just love dunks and swagger or are a basketball purist, Blake Griffin is someone that you anyone can root for. He’s high flying and phenomenal while being a hard working, tough nosed player with the rare ability to lead. Because of Blake Griffin, it’s the best time to be a Clipper fan in the history of the franchise, with a notable exception of 2006.
Unfortunately, the Clippers’ win loss column doesn’t reflect that. The Clippers are 10-24 and have lost the last two games proving that, despite the recent influx of wins, the Clippers still have a long ways to go, specifically against good teams. Utah and Atlanta both underwhelmed in the first half before going on second half tears (or you can choose to say the Clips folded, or both) to eventually win the games. They forced the Clippers into their old habits of falling apart in the third quarter, not because of effort, because of their inability to deal with the machinations of a well run team.
Denver could easily do the same. Chauncey and Carmelo combine with George Karl’s game planning to form a disciplined offense. Even in the face of injuries to Chris Anderson and Kenyon Martin, the Nuggets are 20-13, a testament to the the system that allows players like rookie Gary Forbes to jump in and become a useful part.
Keys to the Nuggets Game:
-Contain Carmelo. Headlines, scoring, and trade rumors, everything in Denver starts, and ends, with Nuggets’ small forward Carmelo Anthony. The Clippers have struggled guarding opposing small forwards this season and Carmelo Anthony is one of the best swingmen in the league. Even with the incessantly regurgitated rumors that could easily distract anyone, Carmelo is having another great season. While he’s not scoring as much as recent years, he’s rebounding exceptionally well for a small forward, pulling down 8.5 rebounds a game. That is the best in the league for his position. Part of that is due to the Nuggets going with a much smaller (and less talented) lineup at the beginning of the season, the Nuggets started Shelden Williams and Gary Forbes, thus necessitating improvement from Melo. But credit should definitely go to Carmelo. Instead of counting down the days until he’s traded, Carmelo has done the dirty work and increased his rebounding output dramatically (up over rebounds a game). The better news for the Clips game is that Carmelo has been shooting one of the lowest percentages of his career from three point range, a Baron-esque 27 percent, which is important to the Clippers since the opposing SFs usually kill the Clips in threes too (see: Villanueva, Charlie). However, the danger of Melo’s arsenal doesn’t hinge on his three point shot, it dramatically expands. So if Carmelo starts to go off from three, it could be a long, long night for the Clippers.
– Point Guards. Starters and reserves, the Clippers need to win the matchup. Starters Baron Davis and Chauncey Billups don’t perfectly mirror each other’s games, but they are both veteran point guards with the size and strength to back players down into the paint. They also both share a propensity for the hero shot, Chauncey has even (somewhat) earned the nickname Mr. Big Shot. But it doesn’t stop there, both the Nuggets and Clippers have young back-up point guards that they employ to alter the speed of the game. What the Clippers need to do is make sure that Ty Lawson doesn’t spark the bench as they jump Bledsoe from his poor end to December. Bledsoe did score 10 points in Hawks game, but it could have been because of Mike Bibby guarding him. Hopefully, he’s just snapping out of it.
– Defending the three. The Nuggets shoot 38.5 percent from three, good for 4th in the league. The Clippers allow their opponents to shoot 39.7 percent from three, bad for 2nd worst in the league. If the Clippers are going to win they have to limit the Nuggets long range game.
Chris Kaman out, ankle
Craig Smith out, back
Brian Cook doubtful, ankle
Al Harrington game time decision, thumb
Chat Note: I’ll be over at ESPN’s Daily Dime Live for all your game time chat needs.