Los Angeles Clippers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
April 10, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
FOX Prime Ticket
3 Seed Western Conference Standings Check
Denver Nuggets, 53-24
L.A. Clippers 51-26, 2 GB
Memphis Grizzlies, 53-25, 0.5 GB
Only five games left in the season and the Clippers are still stuck in a dog race for home court advantage in the Western Conference. With each Denver win, their chances at the 3 seed shrink, but the Clips actually control their own destiny for home court. If L.A. wins out, it will snag the fourth-best record back from Memphis (the Clippers play the Grizzlies on Saturday). The Clips own the tie breaker against both Denver and Memphis since they won their division. And speaking of breaking, let’s hope Caron Butler and Greg Stiemsma control themselves tonight. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. Who is more fun to watch when he’s on his game: Jamal Crawford or Ricky Rubio?
Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves, (@talkhoops): This is messed up. You’re asking me to choose between two of my favorite players to watch. Ever. It reminds me of a fable. There was once a fight between two brothers. It was over a slice of bacon. This wasn’t just any bacon. This was boar’s back bacon. The two couldn’t decide who should get the last piece, so they asked their father which person deserved it more. He said to cut the bacon down the middle and split it evenly. The older brother said fine to the compromise. The younger brother disagreed. He said he couldn’t stand to see the bacon split into two and that the older brother should have it all. That’s how the father knew the younger brother deserved it. The father ate it instead. What’s the morale of the story? I don’t know. Did I answer the question? No. But now we’re all hungry for delicious boar’s back bacon.
Steve McPherson, A Wolf Among Wolves, (@steventurous): To me, this all comes down to Veronica Mars. Watching Crawford now is like watching the third season of Veronica Mars: You know it’s going to end and you know it’s not going to end in a completely satisfying way, but there are these flashes that you love because it still manages to wring some surprises out of the premise. Watching Rubio is like watching the first season: The thrill is in seeing it find its feet, in those moments when the total package appears and it makes you excited not just for the present but for the future.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): If you add time travel into this question, it gets way harder to answer – often the case with space-time-continuum ruptures — as Crawford is slightly past his prime and Rubio could be even more marvelous in the future. For now, I say J-Crossover, but it’s close.
2. What Clipper weakness to the Timberwolves need to exploit to win this game?
Harper: I’m not quite sure there is a weakness the Wolves can exploit here without Love on the court. The key to breaking down the Clippers’ defense is to either wait for Lamar Odom to check into the game or get them moving side to side. The only way they’ll get them moving side to side is by making shots from the corners. Unfortunately for the Wolves, they just don’t venture into the corners very often. They need to find a way to get Chase and Luke in the corners so they can get movement along the baseline and cutters through the middle of the floor. If that happens and the ball is swung around, things can happen. Otherwise, it could be a long night.
McPherson: The backcourt size advantage the Clippers have held will be a little different this time out with Budinger back in the fray, which has allowed Adelman to move Kirilenko onto whatever offensive threat he needs contained. When Budinger is at the three-point line, and when their inside-out game has been clicking with Pek and shooters on the perimeter, they’ve looked solidly good. This is a very different Minnesota team than the Clippers have faced the first three times this season.
James: What’s frustrating for the Timberwolves is that the most glaring Clipper weakness (three-point defense) runs right up against one of Minny’s biggest deficiencies (three-point shooting), which could make for an arduous night for fans and players alike. That said, the Clippers have been so inconsistent lately that literally anything could happen (time travel included).
3. DeAndre Jordan has 25 rebounds and is averaging 29.5 minutes over his past two games. Is this hot streak sustainable?
Harper: It will depend on how intelligently he defends Pek. Pek’s biggest strength, outside of his actual strength and awesome tattoos, is his ability to draw fouls. He can do that easily against DeAndre Jordan if Jordan isn’t patient with him on defense. For DAJ to be effective against Pek, he has to use his length to challenge shots. He doesn’t do that by getting up on Pek but by using a trick Alonzo Mourning used to do on defense. When the offensive player goes up for the shot inside, take a step back and then go for the block. It takes away the leverage Pek creates with his strength and plays against his biggest weakness – his lack of athleticism. If he can do that, he can keep his great work on the boards going.
McPherson: Jordan’s solid rebounding streak might be running up against an equivalent trough for Pekovic, who’s only averaging 8.5 rpg over the last four games. Of course, over that same stretch he’s averaging 25 ppg, but at least as far as the glass goes, the Wolves are going to have a rough time matching up against the strength and leaping ability of Jordan and Griffin. Jordan’s only averaging 8.7 rpg against the Wolves, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit double digits.
James: Maybe not at this rate, but the more active DJ is on the glass, the better the team seems to play — and the more his coach seems to trust him. Also, as well as Pek has played lately, DJ has a slightly better rebound rate for the year (17.8 to 15.9) so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out Wednesday.