Get ready to say your goodbyes, because after this game the Clippers are off on their marathon road trip. And as much as they might fret the oncoming travels (starting with Atlanta, Miami, Orlando and New York… it’s rough), the Clips have a mighty hurdle to overcome before they even hop on the plane.
Even though the Clippers won in the previous meeting (on the second night of a back to back on the road and third game in 4 days, no less), I have a feeling that the Bulls will be extra motivated to get a win back on the Clips home floor.
Keys to the Game
– Boozer and Blake. Both are great scorers and rebounders, neither are great defenders. Blake plays a more athletic game that Boozer, with an edge in rebounding while Boozer has the far more refined (below the basket) post and high post game. There have been strides in the one on one defense with Blake, and he’ll have to show it because the Bulls have Derrick Rose on the wings.
– Ball movement and preventing turnovers. The Bulls have the toughest defense in the league (allowing 96 points per 100 possessions), and it’ll be important for the Clippers to avoid stagnation and predictability. In the last matchup, the Clippers turned the ball over fewer times than the Bulls (14 to the Bulls’ 15 turnovers) and they had more assists (20 to the Bulls’ 17), which was crucial to the victory. The Bulls aren’t a team that plays loosely enough or fast enough to allow the Clippers to come back from mistakes.
– Help defense. Derrick Rose is fast, he turns off picks very well and he doesn’t waste any energy attacking the rim. There are no circuitous routes, as soon as he sees a crease, he’s going to the rack. The Clippers will have to be extra attentive on defense, because Rose will beat whomever guards him a lot. Doesn’t matter who’s up there, Rose has a quick enough crossover and runs through enough picks that no one will be able to stay in front of him the whole game. The best that the Clippers can hope for is that they guide him into other defenders and tough situations. No matter what, he’s a handful.
Chris Kaman: left ankle, out
Eric Gordon: wrist/back, day to day (!) but really he’s out
Craig Smith: herniated disc, out (might return soon though)
Joakim Noah: right thumb, day to day
Taj Gibson: ankle, probable