L.A. Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves
Target Center, Minneapolis
January 17, 2013 5 p.m. PST
A running theme for the past few games has been the Clippers’ rebounding. Right now, they sit at 23rd in the NBA with a 72.1 percent defensive rebounding rate. Meanwhile, Minnesota ranks third in the league in offensive rebounding rate and gets 4.3 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes from starting center Nikola Pekovic. Watch out for that matchup.
Now onto some 3-on-3:
1. A Chris Paul-less road trip has taught you…
Jordan Heimer (@jordanheimer): …that even with Chris Paul watching on in street clothes, the team plays in his image. In addition to the marvelous Eric Bledsoe, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, and Blake Griffin demonstrated an unselfish versatility, passing up good shots for great ones and filling up the box score with steals, blocks, and assists.
Jovan Buha (@JovanBuha): …that this team is deeper than we thought. The Clippers demolished the Grizzlies and Rockets in ways we weren’t sure they would have even if Paul had been playing. It was quite the sight and just a reminder of how well-equipped this team is to make a long playoff run.
Fred Katz (@FredKatz): That the 2012-13 Clippers are totally different from the 2011-12 Clippers. Last season, if Chris Paul was out, that was it. The game was over before it started. This year, Paul is actually less important to the team. They can sustain without him.
2. True or False: Minnesota is a frozen Admiral Ackbar. (It’s a trap!)
Heimer: Usually I’d say true, considering the Clips troubling recent history of losing to teams that don’t have their best players. But with CP3 still sidelined, his absence compels the team to maintain its highest focus and energy.
Buha: True. I don’t think the Clippers will lose this game, but I think the Wolves will provide a scare. For whatever reason, games between these two always seem to come down to the wire, and it’s only fitting that both teams will be missing their best player. It’s tough to play this well for this long without Chris Paul, but hey, maybe the Clippers are just that good.
Katz: False. Wouldn’t the Houston game have been the trap game? The second night of a road back-to-back following a 26-point shellacking in Memphis seems much more conducive for falling through a trap door. Yet, the Clippers were full of energy Tuesday night. I don’t expect Thursday to be any different.
3. True or False: A healthy Timberwolves team would be the least desired playoff opponent in the bottom 4? (do not include Brandon Roy)
Heimer: False. It’s not just Kevin Love. From the Russians cooling off after a blistering start, to Ricky Rubio’s uneven return and Derrick Williams’ uneven development, to their patented Four Undersize Point Guard backcourt rotation. Hard to imagine the Clips losing four out of seven to these sheep in wolves’ clothing.
Buha: False. I still think no one wants to play the Lakers or Nuggets. Heck, even the Warriors may be a worse matchup for the Clippers. I get that Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are really good when healthy, but I don’t think they pose enough serious problems for the Clippers in a playoff series.
Katz: False. The Wolves could pose problems on the boards and there are matchup issues, but a Denver, Utah, or Golden State matchup might pose more problems. The Nuggets can match the Clippers’ depth, the Jazz have size, and the Warriors seem to really get up for those Clipper games.