“Going small” because your opponent plays at a fast pace is like batting Juan Pierre leadoff because he’s a speedy little black guy.  They both reside in this bizarre realm of sports logic where ideas are employed because, well, “they seem right.”  As if playing at a fast pace attenuates a need for rebounding.  As if the Golden State Warriors don’t miss shots and don’t field a starting lineup that includes a true center, a 6-9 power forward, a guard on the wing in Jason Richardson who averages 5.4 rpg for his career, and a pretty good rebounding point guard in Baron Davis.

The Los Angeles Clippers do two things exceptionally well: They get to the line [where they convert at a nice rate], and they keep their opponents off the offensive glass.  Their aptitude in these two categories keeps them from being a wretched basketball team rather than the mediocre one that they’ve become.  I’ve been relatively uncritical of Mike Dunleavy all season, but it’s fundamentally flawed, batshit decisions like starting Elton Brand at center that lose basketball games. To be fair, the Clippers weren’t exactly sweeping the glass when Kaman was in there, but I’ve never understood why the superior team should have to cede to the inferior team’s style.  Force Golden State to play a structured game, as the Clippers did a couple of weeks ago.  Do you honestly believe that you can forfeit both size and tempo and actually win – particularly when you leave your best on-ball defender on the bench? 

Acknowledging that box scores can’t tell you everything you need to know, let’s examine some of the stinky tea leaves at the bottom of the chalice, shall we:

  The Clippers and Warriors both shot 16 3PA.  They were virtually equally incompetent: The Clips went 6-16, GSW 5-16.

  The Warriors turned the ball over one more time than did the Clips [18-17].  The Clippers got the benefit of three more FTAs, five more FTM, and shot 86% from the line to the Warriors’ 77%.

  Holy Mookie!  The Clippers chalked up 13 steals to Golden State’s five.

  The Warriors grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to the Clippers’ seven. 

And, go figure, the Warriors' two centers combined for 11 of those 17.  Could it be because, for most of the game, the Clippers’ biggest man on the floor is a 6’ 10” guy who plays on the perimeter?  Maybe? 

As a side note, Clipperblog has been unfortunately lax over the past couple weeks.  It doesn’t have so much to do with the team’s shitting the bed as real life responsibilities calling.  With that in mind, Clipperblog will be among those blogging the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament – known to the working man as March Madness – for The New Republic.  Clipperblog is a bit more libertarian than the editorial bent of TNR, but plans to compensate by slipping some Clipper propaganda into the blog.