Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings
Sleep Train Arena
March 19, 2013
7:00 p.m. PST
FOX Prime Ticket
The Clippers have won four of their past five road games as they head to Sacramento, whom they hold a five-game winning streak against. This is the first of two games left against the Kings. These are the ones the Clippers have to win. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. DeMarcus Cousins practiced Monday and is questionable for Tuesday’s game. How does his presence change what the Clippers try to do?
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): Cousins changes everything – especially on the offensive glass. After missing the past two games, he’s fully capable of making up for missed time with a big performance against the Clips. If he’s out, that means the Clippers no longer have to worry about the guy who is arguably the biggest offensive threat on the Sacramento roster.
Michael Shagrin (@mshaggy): It’s not how Boogie changes the Clippers – it’s how the Clippers change Boogie. In two games against the Clippers this year, Cousins has only received minutes in four of eight quarters. Whether its a visceral reaction to the Clippers high-flying, free-wheeling style or internal conflicts in Sacramento, Boogie always seems to disappear.
Jeremy Conlin, (@jeremy_conlin): Sacramento’s already poor defense becomes even worse when Cousins is on the floor. He’s slow-footed, undisciplined, and it’s much easier to attack him with pick-and-rolls than it is to attack guys like Chuck Hayes or Jason Thompson. The more Cousins is forced to move, the easier it will be for the Clippers to get open looks.
2. Is Chuck Hayes the perfect man to guard Blake Griffin?
Katz: He’s perfect. Hayes is so low and sturdy, an unfortunate matchup for Griffin on the offensive end. It’s not so much that Hayes deters Griffin from scoring as much as it is that he stops him from shooting altogether. In four games against Hayes since Chris Paul came to the Clippers, Griffin averages only 15.8 points on 12.3 field goal attempts per game.
Shagrin: Yes. Few men can handle Blake when he gets in the air, starts burning rocket fuel, and finally, minutes later, throws down the hammer. But Chuck Hayes doesn’t let him take off. He can use his unique combination of girth and agility to effectively keep Griffin out of his preferred operating locations in the paint.
Conlin: Hayes is certainly an elite positional defender, but if I were assigning someone to check Griffin, I would prefer to have an athlete with length that can bother him when he elevates towards the rim in addition to being able to be disciplined in pick-and-roll coverage and isolation plays – someone like Taj Gibson from Chicago comes to mind.
3. What do the Clippers have to do for Tuesday night’s game to be considered a success?
Katz: Win by a lot and return to L.A. with everyone in full health. That’s kind of the only way, right? If the current knock on the Clippers is that they can’t beat elite teams, no outcome of this game will change that perception.
Shagrin: Take control of the game early. If the starting unit can come out and create some separation at Arco/Power Balance/Sleep Train Arena, the Kings will have serious trouble overcoming the deficit. With an increasingly depleted bench due to injuries and cost-cutting, Sacramento would have to assert themselves early for a shot at this one.
Conlin: The easy answer? Win the game. This cluster in the West of the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nuggets is getting a bit too close for comfort. We’re reaching a point in the season where style points don’t matter nearly as much as just pulling out the win and keeping your nose in front in the standings.