Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers
Staples Center, Los Angeles
December 30, 2012 6:30p PT
FOX Prime Ticket
With a victory over the Jazz tonight, the Clippers can sweep the entire month of December. But first, there are pressing questions that need to be asked:
1. Who has the bigger role tonight: Matt Barnes or DeAndre Jordan?
Jordan Heimer: Even when he’s been at his most effective, DeAndre Jordan has rarely been on the floor down the stretch of close games. Friday night, Vinny Del Negro recognized the beating the giant Jazz were giving Clips were taking in the paint, and called on his 7-foot center to restore order. DeAndre did and we can expect to see him in a key role again tonight.
Michael Shagrin: DeAndre Jordan. When the Clippers face the Jazz’s massive front line, DJ’s size and ability to control the middle become invaluable. Unlike most teams, Utah’s backup bigs bring a similar level of firepower as their starters, neutralizing one the Clippers’ strongest advantages this season. Jordan will have to pickup the slack.
Jovan Buha: DeAndre Jordan, barring foul trouble. Matt Barnes has been the better player as of late, but Jordan’s defense and size proved invaluable against the Jazz in crunch time. Also, I don’t expect Randy Foye to go off for 28 points again, so Barnes should play his normal allotment of minutes.
2. Buy or Sell: Teams that don’t depend on point guard scoring can give the Clippers trouble.
Heimer: Sell. Despite having the league’s best defensive point-guard combo, the Clips are still most vulnerable to penetrating guards who can slip into the lane and make quick decisions against a collapsing D. Al Jefferson and his YMCA post moves are guaranteed to make the Clips’ young bigs look foolish a few times per game, but it’s not a sustainable way to beat LA.
Shagrin: Depends on the price. On the one hand, you don’t want to see Chris Paul tired out on the defensive end from having to contain an elite scorer. On the other, who would you prefer to bear responsibility for an opponents best offensive option?
Buha: Buy, but only if those teams reside in Los Angeles and Miami. While Steve Nash and Mario Chalmers are both capable scorers, neither is the focal point of their respective team’s offense (scoring-wise). With that said, there’s a good chance the Clippers will face at least two playoff teams with a top-notch point guard, and that can be a problem for a team that still has trouble on half court rotations.
3. The Clippers have to ___ to make it 17 in a row.
Heimer: Defend and protect. The Clips had a disastrous first half Friday night, lackluster and sloppy on both ends, allowing 58 points and turning the ball over an uncharacteristic 12 times. I expect to see a sharper team on both ends tonight at Staples Center.
Shagrin: Give effort. The Clippers are a much more complete team than the Jazz, and, as they’ve shown throughout this 16-game win streak, this group doesn’t lose to lesser talent. The question thus becomes whether or not Vinny Del Negro can milk all he can from his deep roster. Rotations, rebounding, and creating in transition all are a direct product of effort.
Buha: Rotate and rebound. Most of the Clippers problems on defense in the half court simply come from not rotating properly. This leads to offensive rebounding opportunities, which Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter thrived on in limited minutes, and a lot of open 3s. The Jazz aren’t a good 3-point shooting team, but they shot 60 percent against the Clippers in Utah. Hand down, man down.