Los Angeles Clippers vs. Charlotte Bobcats
6:30 p.m. PST
January 1, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Should we be worried after the Suns smacked around the Clippers on Monday night?
Davis Vo, (@davisvo): No. It was one arbitrary game in the middle of December. Basketball skills don’t just deteriorate over night unless there is a major injury or internal chemistry issues involved. By all accounts, the Clippers just had an off-night. It happens. From an objective standpoint, I would analyze it the same way if the Clippers thrashed the Miami heat by 19, although my enthusiasm level may differ.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): Not yet. But one thing to notice is that Doc Rivers clearly wasn’t thrilled with the team’s energy against Phoenix. Maybe that’s something that changes going forward. Maybe it was just a one-night stunt, but maybe laying an occasional dud is in this team’s chemistry.
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): Would we be putting big money on the Clippers to win it all if they won by 40 Monday against the Suns? It runs counter to the nature of Clippers watchers, a fanbase not willing to take any game for granted, but this team is going to be a season long experiment. If this loss happens in April? Signs to be concerned.
2. How have the Bobcats managed to improve so much this year?
Vo: Defense. Last season the Bobcats ranked last in defensive efficiency (108.9 points per 100 possessions). This season? They’ve jumped all the way to fourth best in the league, giving up 98.3 points per 100 possessions. A big part of that is that they are defending the rim extremely well this year, ranking third in opponent’s FG% at the rim (54.1%).
Katz: Steve Clifford and Al Jefferson. It sounds crazy, but Jefferson is actually playing defense this year, which was hardly his M.O. in Utah, Minnesota, and Boston. Jefferson was a turnstile defending the pick-and-roll and the rim in the past. Now, he’s adequate, which is a quite the jump to make in his first year Charlotte.
Han: A combination of the game having slowed down a bit for Charlotte’s young point guard, Kemba Walker, and the stifling defense that Clifford has been able to install. Did you know the future Hornets are fourth in defensive efficiency? Steve Clifford and Patrick Ewing haven’t just installed better schemes, they’ve given guys like Al Jefferson the confidence to play inspired defense.
3. What is the most favorable matchup for the Clippers in this one?
Vo: Blake Griffin vs. whoever they put on him. Individually, the Bobcats don’t have anyone who could match up with Blake one on one. Josh McRoberts? Al Jefferson? I would also like to add that it’s disappointing that we won’t get to see Michael-Kidd Gilchrist try his hand (too soon?) on Chris Paul during spurts of this game. Get well soon, MKG.
Katz: Jamal Crawford vs. the Bobcats wings. Jeff Taylor is out. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out. And that means there might not be anyone to suitably guard Crawford. If Good Crawford shows up Wednesday night, then who on the Bobcats is going to stop him in a one-on-one game?
Han: Blake Griffin in space versus Queen City. With Jeff Taylor and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out, Charlotte is most susceptible in wing defense. Except the Clippers are also a little light in that department as well. Rolling Griffin around and turning him into a roving death machine is probably the Clippers’ safest bet. Runner-up award goes to the Matt Barnes cutting death machine.