Coming off the the disappointing loss in Portland, the Clippers face a familiar foe in the Warriors. It’s the two teams’ final match-up of the season and the third time they’ve played in the last two weeks, so they know each other and have the same goals. Both teams are on the outside of the playoffs with distant hopes to make it. According to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, the Clippers have a 1.3 percent chance and the Warriors have a 9.3 percent chance. So while each team still has a chance, it’s going to be a dog fight to get into the playoffs. At this point, thought, the Clippers still haven’t proven themselves on the road (3-13), so every home game is a must win.
A few Clipper related bits around the interwebs:
• Daily Dime Live host and contributor to Cowbell Kingdom, Wolf Among Wolves and Hardwood Paroxysm, Zach Harper wrote an ode to Blake Griffin:
Blake Griffin is an Absinthe hallucination.
Nothing he does is real. It’s all created in our minds and hearts through some inebriated state of fandom. He is the wet dream of Nielsen Ratings. If you were to create a player in NBA 2K11, you’d GameShark your way to an infinite amount of skill points and build the 250 lbs propulsion device that is Blake Griffin.
It’s not that he’s inventing the art of dunking or the concept of the highlight play. That was down decades ago. It’s that he’s doing these things with a ferocity that is both sexually gratifying and completely animalistic in its nature. He’s relentlessly violent in the way he attacks the rim. Cut him off from the dunk and he’ll just hang in the air until he finds the right angle for his shot.
Talking about his motor would often be as cliché as asking him to take things one game at a time and give 110%. But the guy works himself into complete exhaustion in a way that makes the Energizer Bunny want to throw down the drum set, put his feet up on the ottoman, and see if Lamar Odom is going to have an awkward conversation with whatever it is we’re calling “Bruce Jenner” on the newest Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
At 6’10” he has the handle of a mid-level exception earning combo guard. We’ve seen his jumper extend comfortably out to the 3-point line on occasion and his touch off the glass from 2 feet or 16 feet makes you all tingly inside. If LeBron James is what it would be like if Karl Malone was a point guard, then Blake Griffin is what it would be like if LeBron James decided to swallow his pride and become the power forward some of us have hoped he’ll want to be.
• Marc Stein with his mid-season report, lots of Blake Griffin.
• Lisa Dillman’s report on the team’s exhaustion after the Portland loss, not a good sign if they are tiring while mostly playing their games at home.
Keys to the Game:
– Pace. In the one win against the Warriors this year, the Clippers held the Ws to 91 points, as opposed to the 122 and 109 they allowed the Warriors to score in the losses. The Warriors are just too efficient of an offense and too accustomed to fast pace for the Clippers to have a good chance at beating them in a track meet.
– Defend the three. In the two losses, the Clippers gave up 58 and 54 percent, but in the lone win? 32 percent. It’s no surprise that when the Clippers defend the three, they win against the three happy Warriors.
– DeAndre Jordan. He has become a focal point for Clipper success because he allows the defense to funnel their opponents into him. This is especially important when playing the Warriors because they have three strong offensive perimeter players. Dorell Wright, Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis can all score easily, making it hard to guard them one on one. However, if Baron, Eric and Gomes know that they can guide those players into DeAndre, then it allows the team to play better defense. In the one win, DeAndre had 9 points and 13 rebounds with 3 blocks, much better than the 9.5 points, 6 rebounds and .5 block he averaged in the two losses.
– Chris Kaman left ankle, out
– Brian Cook right ankle, doubtful
– Craig Smith herniated disc, out
Update to the Injury Report:
Vinny just said that Brian Cook is expected to play 10-12 minutes tonight.