Los Angeles Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves
5:00 p.m. PST
November 20, 2013
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Did the Clippers deserve the win when these two teams played last week?
Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves, (@talkhoops): The Clippers shot 55 percent from the field in that game. They definitely deserved to win because the Wolves’ defense was horrendous. It was great that Minnesota made a late push and had a chance to win the game, but you can’t give up that success rate in scoring the ball and pretend you deserved to win. Those two missed follows though…
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): The Wolves played a great game in a tough road environment, but anytime you allow a team to score 109 points on 98 possessions, it’s hard to argue you deserve to win the game. Maybe that “Love tap” at the buzzer should’ve gone in and sent the game to overtime, but that’s about as far as anyone can take the hypothetical.
Jordan Heimer, (@jordanheimer): Did the Mets deserve to win the ’86 World Series? Did Charles Smith deserve to miss five, no six, no seven, no eight put packs in a row? Does Wile E. Coyote deserve such consistently poor performance from his Acme products? Yes. In a moral universe controlled by a benevolent, anthropomorphic
2. Do the Wolves or Clippers have the better transition offense?
Harper: This makes sense in my head but I think the Wolves’ transition offense has a bigger impact against opponents while the Clippers have the better transition offense. Few teams can hit their opponents with consecutive offensive possessions that last less than three seconds and result in points. The Wolves can do that so it at times seems smothering to the opponent. The Clippers are just surgical. The line of attack and passing is much better. The transition shooting is better. They have more options. It’s more in the flow of the game, like a boxer pummeling away with body shots. The Wolves are simply swinging wild haymakers, hoping to get a knockdown.
Katz: The Wolves are magnificent in transition. Kevin Love outlet passing, Ricky Rubio fast-break passing, Kevin Martin shooting, and Corey Brewer leakouts all make Minny so fun to watch, but still, sometimes transition play gets just a little too fast for them. The Clippers are more meticulous. They carve. They have the Martin-like shooters on the wing and they have better finishers at the rim. I’ll say the Clippers, but it’s darn close.
Heimer: While there’s little more spectacular than a Kevin Love outlet pass or the balletic Ricky Rubio bearing down on a retreating D, I still have to give the nod to the Clips’ Shock and Awe. Trying to stop the starters in transition is almost impossible: sell out to contain Blake and DeAndre and CP3 will find Redick or Dudley spotting up for three; stay with the shooters and Blake or DeAndre is likely to come thundering down the lane… and in the unlikely scenario that you manage to neutralize those four, the ball is still in the hands of the world’s best point guard, who looks increasingly comfortable finishing plays himself.
3. What aspect of the game do the Clippers most need to excel in to pick up the road win?
Harper: Everything is about the defense, right? If this team can play defense, it seems unstoppable. Unfortunately, the Clippers have been a team of David Lees out there. The matchup against the Wolves is a little easier for them to defend but they still have to be consistent in their effort and positioning. If you’re not, the Wolves walk away with a home win.
Katz: Finishing at the rim. The Clippers’ defense is going to figure it out if and when it figures it out. It’s hard to watch them every night and just hope for the defense, so maybe the Clips’ best shot here is to go nuts at the rim, where the Wolves don’t really have a body to contest shots. Pekovic isn’t a great defender in the restricted area. Neither is Love. After Love and his lower-body strength put on a Zach Randolph-style performance in the way Love guarded Blake Griffin last week, maybe we’ll see more face-ups from Griffin this time. For him and D.J., it’ll be all about getting to the hoop.
Heimer: Stay out of foul trouble. DeAndre and Blake may not be Jo Noah and Taj Gibson, but they’re All Defense compared to what’s coming off the bench. In limited minutes, both Ryan Hollins and Byron Mullins were eaten alive by K. Love and Pek last week at Staples Center. The Clippers will need close to 40 minutes apiece from their starting bigs to get out of Minneapolis with a win.