L.A. Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves
January 30, 2013
5:00 p.m. PST
FOX Prime Ticket
The Clippers head to Minnesota on Wednesday night to start what will be an eight-game, 13-day road trip. Fortunately for the Clips, six of those eight games are against teams currently below .500. How will they fare away from home for so long? That and more in today’s 3-on-3:
1. What record do the Clippers have to post over their next eight games for this to be considered a successful road trip?
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): At least 5-3. Besides stops in Miami and New York, it’s a relatively easy road swing. Except road trips rarely work out that way, so I expect the Clippers to drop a game or two they should win. Of course, Chris Paul’s health will likely determine their success.
Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy): 5-3. There aren’t any elite opponents beyond the Heat and the Knicks, but the Clippers also have two back-to-backs to worry about. The overriding concern is how much time Chris Paul will remain sidelined. Given the relapse during his last outing, expect the Clippers staff to proceed conservatively.
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): 4-4. No Chris Paul? The expectation should be .500 ball. Sure, hopes can fly to 5-3, 6-2 or *gasp* even 8-0, but all fans should expect is 4-4. That was the point of the Clippers strong first half, to weather these kinds of injuries. Don’t be greedy.
2. Ricky Rubio might be coming off his best game of the season. How concerned should Clipper fans be?
Buha: Not very concerned. Rubio is a brilliant passer and underrated defender, but he’s not the shooting or finishing type of point guard that gives L.A. problems. A minor concern would be him setting up his teammates, but it’s not like the injury-depleted Wolves have many options.
Shagrin: Not concerned at all. Minnesota’s lineup is still decimated by injury and Rubio’s body is just catching up to the accompanying increase in minutes. But even if Rubio regained his “passing savant” status, the spare parts T’Wolves wouldn’t give the Clippers any problems.
Han: Not so much concerned as excited to watch young prestidigitator Rubio. The Wolves are too injury-riddled to be worried about whether Rubio will have a major impact on the outcome (good jinx by me here), but watching one of the more talented sleight-of-hand artists as a warm-up act to the traveling Lob City circus is a worthwhile ticket investment.
3. With Chris Paul out, is Blake Griffin the best facilitator on the Clippers?
Buha: Yes. Griffin has the second-best court vision on the team. Jamal Crawford is more of a scorer than passer, Bledsoe just isn’t at that level yet, and Lamar Odom is limited by his age and weight. I say this without trepidation — Griffin is the best passing big man in the league.
Shagrin: Probably. Griffin’s passing out of the post is turning into one of his best assets. With the defense naturally focused on his path to the basket, Griffin’s abilities to thread the ball to a cutter and skip to a shooter make him a top-notch facilitator.
Han: Yes. Blake. Post. See floor. Dribble. Lead break. High-low. Make good pass.