A lot going on in Clipperland right now:
Elton Brand Returns. EB was the centerpiece on the best Clipper team in history (2005-2006) when the Clippers won their only first round matchup. After the team returned to mediocrity in 2007 and 2008, Elton Brand looked like he would rejuvenate the Clippers again by luring friend and star Baron Davis to the team. However, Elton bolted for Philly at the last second (in what looked like a David Falk powerplay) and left the Clippers with a downtrodden Baron and another couple years of sub-.500 basketball. The game tonight marks the first time that Elton has come back when Baron isn’t part of the team, and maybe the Clipper fans will remember all the good times he brought us, as even the shocking decision to quit the Clips allowed the Clippers to draft Blake Griffin.
A lovely story from Gary Woelfel about current Clipper Chris Kaman and ex-Clippers Corey Maggette, Elton Brand and Marko Jaric chipping in over $70,000 for ex-coach Kim Hughes’ prostate cancer surgery, so that Hughes could get the operation earlier than the doctor under the Clippers’ insurance policy would allow. Those four players should be commended for their acts for their fellow man as well as their desire to win, because the issue here wasn’t whether or not Hughes would have gotten surgery. He would have, only later than he wanted. The problem was that the operation would force him to miss time. That’s where people are poking at the Clippers. If they thought that Kim would help the team, why not spend the $70,000 to have Hughes ready and coaching for the season? And if they were okay with Kim getting the surgery and missing time, thus not being that valuable as a coach, then why have him as a coach at all? That’s where the cheapness argument comes in. Unfortunately, Sterling seems to overshadow everything, even great deeds done by Kaman, Maggette, Jaric and Brand. Kudos to those four.
The more disturbing Sterling news story, was his admission that he didn’t know what his former GM Elgin Baylor had accomplished as a basketball player. As shrewd a businessman as Sterling is, I find this hard to believe, especially as he admits later in the article that he had spent a quarter of a billion dollars and expected to win. From the article, Sterling sounds both oblivious and condescending, having little idea about the timeline (which is somewhat understandable) and the reasoning (much less understandable) for the ascension of Elgin Baylor within the Clippers Organization. I have a hard time finding common ground with Sterling, except when he says “I don’t profess to know anything about basketball,” and while I believe that his rumored meddling suggests otherwise, I would say that the results of the franchise, and how to run the Clippers, whether from his professed statements or the rumored meddling, shows that, indeed, Sterling doesn’t know much about basketball.
Keys to the Game
– Go inside. The 76ers have a fantastic defense, ranked ninth in the league in defensive efficiency, but that doesn’t mean that their bigs are great defenders. The Clippers need to get Blake, Kaman and (to some extent) DeAndre attacking in the paint.
– Perimeter defense. Starting guards Mo Williams and Randy Foye will have a heavy load guarding the larger and more athletic Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala. The 76ers starting guards combined for 44 points in the first matchup and that was when the Clippers had Eric Gordon, their best perimeter defender, on the floor. Foye and Williams don’t have the physical abilities to contain each player, so they’ll have to have a plan of attack, and know the areas to which Iggy and Jrue need to be funneled. Defending the perimeter, more so than normal, will be a team effort.
– Turnovers. Against Memphis, the Clippers turned the ball over 19 times and in the last game against the 76ers, they turned the ball over 14 times to 76ers 3. The total wasn’t bad against the Sixers but the differential of 11 was. Over the course of the season, the Sixers have force their opponents into .66 turnovers more per game. That doesn’t sound like much, but consider the differential is the 10th best in the league. The Clippers will have to be particularly careful with Jrue and Iggy, as they combine to average 3.1 steals per game.
Eric Gordon: wrist, out
Ryan Gomes: knee, questionable
Andre Igoudala: knee, probable