Analysis of last night's Clippers' pre-season game against the Warriors, Part I

I went to the Clips’ game last night and, man, what a game it was!  Even though the bottom levels were almost completely empty, up in the rafters where I was, you could feel the excitement & electricity.  Oh, and before we go on, what’s up with the Staples Center attendants being so strict about letting people down low when it’s all empty there?  Wouldn’t the Clips themselves have gotten more of a kick if we all came down and completely filled up the lower rungs?  That’s what used to happen when I’d go to games at Madison Square Garden.  If there were open seats, you’d sneak down into them.  Hell, I once was at a Nets’ game where snow had prevented a lot of people from coming out (not that the Nets need a reason to have an empty arena), so the announcer actually TOLD everyone to come on down!  Think of the good will the Clips could engender if they did that!  Opponents of that idea might say that it would then encourage people to just buy the cheaper tix, or that people who paid full price for the good seats would be annoyed that other people could just sit there for less money.  How’s about this then: people can only come down after halftime?  Truth is I do that when I go to the theater in NY (as do most native New Yorkers).

Sorry, sorry, I don’t know where that tangent came from.  Onto the actual game:

-First off, this was more like a real game than an exhibition as both coaches almost entirely played their regulars.  The only exceptions for the Clips were Mardy Collins and Anthony Robeson, but they played 4 and 5 minutes respectively.   For the Warriors the only scrub cameo was from Shaun Pruitt who played 12 minutes.  Actually, that’s not entirely true, Mikki Moore also played 23 minutes and he’ll be lucky to get in during the regular season, however Ronny Turiaf was injured and Anthony Randolph got into foul trouble quickly.

-The Clips did try to run a bunch more, particularly at the beginning, which is encouraging.  However, they were pretty awful at completing the fast break, turning it over more often than not in the first quarter.  There’s an art to the fast-break.  Like having a secondary fast-break where even if no one gets all the way to the basket, usually it’s cuz the defense has collapsed inside, leaving an easy kick-out to a wide open three-point shooter who was trailing the play.  I think I read somewhere that like Troy Murphy scored almost all of his threes last year that way.

-The offense needs to be simplified.  At the beginning when we ran our half-court sets they frequently consisted of players running around screens, trying to lose their man and create space for when they get the ball.  Often they’d end up either getting it near the three-point line with their man pretty much there anyway, or they’d get it at the high-post with people swarming around them.  The things that worked the best were the simple basics.  Pick and roll.  Posting up the big man.  Or just isolation plays.

The Clips were down by 20, yes, 20 points in the second quarter and things looked bleak.  In the third quarter however they let Boom Dizzle go to work in the pick & roll, and you could see him come alive.  He was getting to the rack & either getting a layup, a great pass, or drawing fouls from Golden State.  The man still has plenty of sizzle in him, but ya gotta let him do what he does best.   And once this got him going, he then started picking up rookie PG Stephen Curry before the half-court mark and pressuring the kid.

Post up Kaman or Griffin.  Do iso’s or pick & rolls with Eric Gordon or Al Thornton.  Just make sure the spacing’s good so everyone knows where to look & pass if the D collapses.

-DeAndre Jordan was only in there for a bit, but he’s a baller.  I almost wish we didn’t have both Camby & Kaman just so I could see what Jordan’s capable of.  That being said, both Camby & Kaman looked good.  Camby actually had several great passes when he got the ball in the high post.   At that point Dunleavy’s off-the-ball screens and cuts worked like magic ‘cuz Camby was able to deliver nice little passes to people for either layups or wide open shots from 10 feet away.

-Positions: With Telfair out, Dunleavy mostly used as Eric Gordon as backup PG which worked fine.  Anthony Robeson and Mardy Collins’ brief stints on the court were useless.

In terms of SF, interestingly Dunleavy started Rasual over Thornton the second half.  Perhaps that was part of what inspired Rasual to go off in the third.

With the Warriors’ frequently going small (as they tend to do), it meant that former Clip Corey Maggette was sometimes their power forward.  As a result we got a chance to see how Blake Griffin would do defending a small forward (since Dunleavy’s said he wants to play Griffin there sometimes).  He was awful.  Maggette either ran right around him, or if Blake backed off too much then Mags had the wide-open pretty much uncontested jump shot.  Offensively it wouldn’t make much sense to use Blake as the three either ‘cuz it’s not like he has some great outside shot.  Defenses would clog up the lanes and dare Blake to shoot it from the perimeter.  Blake was at his best when he got to bang down low.  Yeah, yeah, sure he was just posting up Mags, but the boy is active on both O and D.

-Monta Ellis missed a wide open uncontested dunk.  Hee hee.

Okay, that’s it for now.  Stay tuned: Part II will be posted tomorrow.

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