Los Angeles Clippers at Indiana Pacers
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
4:00 p.m. PST
January 18, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket/NBATV
1. Does Roy Hibbert have your hypothetical Defensive Player of the Year vote?
Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 seconds, (@Jared_Wade): Yes. His overwhelming block totals early in the year put him in the catbird seat, and Indiana’s historically elite team defense will keep him there all season. I would bet a ton of money on him winning the award.
Luke Laubhan, (@lukelaubhan): First, some context: it’s been 10 years since a non-center won the award (assuming Kevin Garnett qualifies as a part-time center), and only two non-centers have won DPOY in the last 22 years (Gary Payton in 1995-96, Ron Artest 2003-04). The other centers who might contend for the award this year have fallen off or aren’t there yet, and Hibbert anchors the league’s most efficient defensive team. So naturally I’m voting for LeBron.
Davis Vo, (@davisvo): Thanks for reminding me that I don’t have a vote! No slight to Vogel or the talented array of defensive players on the Pacers, but Hibbert anchors the league’s best defensive team (by a large margin). He also plays the game’s most important defensive position and is one of the best rim protectors in the league.
2. The Clippers won Friday night in game one of their seven-game road trip. What will record will they finish with on the trip?
Wade: 32-15. They lose to the Pacers in Indiana on a back to back then stumble somewhere else to finish 5-2 on the trip.
Laubhan: I think L.A. loses Saturday against a rested Indiana team (the Pacers have played just two games in the last seven days), wins at Detroit and Charlotte, loses at either Chicago or Toronto (the second back-to-back of the trip), and wins at Milwaukee. The Clippers are humming, and this isn’t a particularly daunting road trip. I predict the team goes 5-2.
Vo: 5-2. They’ll lose to the Pacers due to the back-to-back (again), but should be able to grab two wins from the Pistons and Bobcats who are both struggling right now. After that, I suspect they’ll split the Bulls and Raptors games, and then grab a victory from the Bucks.
3. What’s the most effective way for the Clippers to attack the vaunted Pacers’ defense?
Wade: Do they have a magic healing elixir CP3 can take? Maybe get a hold of Jackie Chiles’ balm? Without his presence leading from the perimeter, it will be tough for the Clippers to make much headway on the interior, so they must push the tempo and whip the ball around the arc enough to knock down a heavy dose of threes. If they have a good shooting night blended in with some high-caliber Jamal Crawford antics perhaps they can become the second team this year to win in The Fieldhouse.
Laubhan: Without Chris Paul, Los Angeles will have to play optimum Clipper basketball to win. J.J. Redick needs to run Lance Stephenson into the bleachers, Jared Dudley has to be streaky-good, not streaky-bad, and Blake Griffin needs to play his smartest game of the year – and he’ll have to make jump shots. As for strategy, run the offense through Blake near the high post to unbalance Indiana’s defense. It could work.
Vo: Making threes would be a start, if not obvious. The Clippers may not have enough talent on hand without Chris Paul to force the defense to make dramatic adjustments, so they’ll have to excel in spots where the Pacers will dare them to shoot. The Pacers rank 2nd behind the Spurs in opponents field goal attempts between 10-19 feet. Of course, mastering the long two is easier said than done.