The Clippers host the Spurs tonight in the first game of the Kim Hughes Era. Hughes will be the team’s head coach the remainder of the season and his first game is going to be a challenge.
The Clippers expect to turn Baron Davis loose tonight, as one of Hughes’ initial comments was regarding him wanting to let Baron be more creative than he was allowed to be in former head coach Mike Dunleavy’s half-court sets.
There’s going to be a learning curve as the Baron learns who can keep up with the up-tempo game he likes to play. I expect Eric Gordon and Rasual Bulter’s point totals to go up, as both have the athleticism and wherewithal to keep pace with Baron. I also expect Baron’s field-goal attempts to go up from his current 14 per game average.
Beyond that, I really don’t know what to expect. The Spurs play good defense and control the ball on offense, thereby limiting the Clippers’ touches. The Clippers are going to need Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman to crash the boards defensively and will need to capitalize on fast-break opportunities to limit the Spurs’ defensive effectiveness. This is where Al Thornton has a chance to increase his playing time (and perhaps his trade value), as he has the requisite athleticism to keep up with an increased pace, but it’s yet to be seen if he has the basketball acumen to do so.