Based on the sophisticated science of a live snake draft, the ClipperBlog staff determined the best Clippers home games to go to this season. Here are the first 12 picks:
1. Mon, Nov 26 v. New Orleans
Jordan Heimer stunned everyone by going Hornets number one overall. The reasoning? It’s trifold: Eric Gordon back in LA (a favorite former Clipper), a first look at the consensus no. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis (and Griffin fill-in for Team USA) and Austin Rivers, a player of interest. If Rivers pans out like Jordan hopes, New Orleans would have an entire core of young, potential All-Star players already in the Hive. As quick a rebuild as one could imagine for the Big Easy. This is the first game in Los Angeles against New Orleans.
2. Tues, Jan 22 v. Oklahoma City
Picking second, DJ Foster went with last season’s Western Conference champions, the OKC Thunder. Pretty reasonable thinking here: OKC is one of the youngest, most exciting teams to watch. And DJ reminds us that some of the most exciting moments last season were against OKC (12 points in a minute, Blake dunks on Perkins). This is the first game in Los Angeles against OKC.
3. Sun, Apr 07 v. Los Angeles
A bit of a changeup, Charlie Widdoes goes for the second game against the Lakers. It’s a Sunday marquee game on ABC and, with the way the West playoff race has progressed the last few seasons, could have meaningful seeding implications. What could be better than an intracity showdown late in the season with seeding on the line? DJ shrewdly pointed out things could be settled by then and it could be a garbage-time game. A high-risk, high-reward pick for late season dramatics.
4. Wed, Nov 14 v. Miami
I pick what I thought would be the de facto number one pick: the only appearance of the Heat in Los Angeles for the season. How can you say no to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the defending NBA champions? If you want early season benchmarks, then here it is. And don’t forget, the Clippers upset the Heat last season in their only meeting.
5. Fri, Jan 04 v. Los Angeles
Picking in succession, I went with the first Battle for LA game. The teams will have already met once by this point and this game will likely have big implications in terms of media hype: 2-0 Laker – Big brother imposes his will, 1-1 Tie – The rivalry is alive and well, 2-0 Clippers – Baby bro steps out of the shadows and bathes the city in red.
6. Wed, Dec 19 v. New Orleans
CW goes off the beaten path here and takes the other Hornets game. Why? The Clippers will be coming off a road trip of theoretically weak Eastern teams and should be cooking on all cylinders. These two teams could develop a nasty rivalry sprouting from: 1. the CP3 trade and potential blooming of the young players the Clippers sent back, and 2. the Hornets have two players that put the hard foul down on Griffin last season (Smith @ New Orleans and Lopez @ Phoenix).
7. Wed, Oct 31 v. Memphis
DJ goes with the craze of opening night and all the hoopla associated with it for the 7 pick. On top of that, the Clippers open the season against the team they unceremoniously ousted in the first round last season, the Grizzlies. These two teams duked it out and, although Memphis ultimately lost, they delivered a mortal blow with their Grit ‘n’ Grind style, causing the Clippers to be swept in the second round partly due to injuries to their key players. It’s the perfect way to start the season — against the team that gave the Clippers such a memorable series last season.
8. Thu, Dec 27 v. Boston
Capitalizing on their only appearance in Los Angeles, JH goes with the Celtics at 8. Strong pick here as Boston is reloaded, replacing Ray Allen with Courtney Lee and Jason Terry. And as Jordan points out, the last couple of meetings between the Clippers and Celtics in LA have always gone down to the wire. This game is almost assuredly going to be a nailbiter.
9. Wed, Jan 09 v. Dallas
Starting the third round, JH goes with a great pick randomly steeped in Clippers history. The second meeting between Dallas and LA (so both teams should be humming along by then), it’s a matchup between the culture-change Clippers and the ’06 Clippers frontcourt: Elton Brand & Chris Kaman. If Sam Cassell is somehow at Staples, you’d basically have the most successful Clippers in the last 15 years all in the building. On top of that, both Jordan and DJ suspect that Dallas could be a dark horse in the West. Everyone focuses on the Mavs whiffing on Deron Williams, but no one is talking about the mix of young players and experienced vets they’ve put together. A possible surprise team.
10. Wed, Apr 10 v. Minnesota
Doing a bit of the Kansas City shuffle, DJ slid his way over to the second meeting in LA versus the Wolves. Why not the first game? Rubio is projected to be out early in the season, but he should be back and cruising with a team fighting for a playoff spot the second time around in LA. DJ also points out the massive defensive upgrade Kirilenko should provide over Beasley. The Wolves were a League Pass team last year, and better fitting pieces and an improved defense should only cement their place again this year.
11. Sun, Mar 03 v. Oklahoma City
CW snatched up another ABC showcase game. What else needs to be said? It’s a showdown between West powerhouses on a nationally televised stage.
12. Sat, Mar 23 v. Brooklyn
As much as I wanted to pick the Cavs and Kyrie Irving here (they were pick 13), it’s too tantalizing to pass up a first look at the Nets. They’re a veritable doppelganger of the Clippers: a team with a weak history trading their young assets for an elite point guard and spending the offseason making roster moves they think might appease said point guard into re-signing (it worked for Brooklyn). Moves by both teams merit some questioning, but what can’t be questioned is that both the Nets and Clippers will be good.
And what sounds like the worst 4 home games of the upcoming season:
38. Sat, Dec 08 v. Phoenix
39. Wed, Apr 03 v. Phoenix
As DJ calls it, The Phoenix Experiment. Watching a Suns team not driven by Steven Nash is like… well, it’s like watching a zombie team with no head. Which is basically why the always fun to watch run-and-gun Suns fell all the way to the end of the draft. And what could be worse than getting a first look at this deconstructed, potentially disasterous on defense Suns team? As CW points out, “fast forward four months and that team being 20 games under .500.”
40. Sat, Feb 23 v. Utah
Stuck with the last two picks, I chose the Jazz first because Utah at least has some intriguing young players in Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. We also get to see the 2010-11 Clippers backcourt (Mo Williams & Randy Foye) against the present iteration (Chris Paul & maybe Chauncey Billups at that point). So there are some serviceable facets to this game, unlike…
41. Sun, Mar 10 v. Detroit
A mid-March game against the Pistons. The Clippers return to LA after a Thursday night TNT showdown against the Nuggets and face (what we can only guess as) one the worst teams in the league next season. Drummond is at least a few years away from contributing. Heck, nevermind the team, all of their young prospects, aside from Monroe, are a few years away. And with only one player seriously worth watching, does any team deserve the title ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ more?