The matchup against Denver is a strange one for the Clippers. Last year, the Clippers essentially tanked the last two weeks of the season for the privilege of playing Denver in the first round of the playoffs. Aside from the unique quality of not being Dallas, the Nuggets were a great matchup for the Clippers. Why?
The Nuggets are a transition team, and the Clippers had – and still do – one of the better transition defenses in the league. The Clips have bigs who can run the floor and bothersome on-ball defenders. In addition, the Clips are a team that loves to post up its guards. With Allen Iverson and Steve Blake at the two guard positions for Denver, Cat Mobley should have the opportunity to go to work on the block.
There were other factors for the Clips’ success in that series, but Denver is a much different team today. Greg Buckner, their best defender, is gone, replaced by Iverson. Between Iverson, Blake, and Carmelo Anthony, Denver is one of the worst perimeter and wing defensive teams in the league. When it comes to the frontcourt though, you’d be hard pressed to find a better tandem than Marcus Camby and Nene. Chris Kaman will not repeat his performance against the Lakers, and I expect that we'll see some of Tim Thomas, if only because by setting up on the perimeter, he can help draw Camby or Nene from the paint.
Defensively, Corey Maggette will have his hands full with Carmelo Anthony. And Denver makes it extra tough by setting up Camby on the perimeter, taking Kaman out of any help situation. That leaves Brand for the double team.
Should be interesting.