For the Los Angeles Clippers, this road trip has been, to put it nicely, not very successful. After what looked like a breakout 116 -108 win over the Knicks, the Clip show has dropped 3 horrific games to league roadkill like the Cavs and the Raptors, then got lambasted by 24 to the similarly struggling Milwaukee Bucks. As ugly as the past week has been for the Clippers, realistically, it’s not the losses that are cause for concern; with such a young team and the dismal 1-13 start to the season (CURSE you, Baron Davis!), the playoffs were a dim possibility any way. But as a fan, seeing the Clips be competitive and playing hard, seeing them grow as a team would be fulfilling in it’s own way, Eric Gordon’s 24 ppg and clutch play down the stretch of close games being deleted from the line-up as his wrist heals will submarine the team’s chances on a lot of nights. Troubling is the fact that the Clips are giving up 104.9 ppg over their last 8 games. Troubling is the lack of confidence some of the Clips key guys are showing right now; Randy Foye’s scoring is helping (15.6 ppg as a starter), his 36% shooting over the last 8 is definitely not. Al- Farouq Aminu, penciled in as the Future at small forward and who looked exceptional at times early in the season, looks lost on the court, and his shooting has plummeted; over the last 10 games he’s only hitting 22% from the floor.
The Clips wobble into the Timberwolves’ Target Center for their last game before the All Star break having lost 9 of the 12 games since EJ went down; as poorly as the Clippers have performed, Minnesota has been just as pathetic, dropping 17 of their last 21 games. The Clips certainly will be missing Gordon’s 29.7-54%-63% (!) from the 3 games these 2 teams played, but his loss will be offset by the T-Wolves’ Michael Beasley’s 24.7 ppg and 4.7 rpg vs LAC this season being sidelined due to his bum ankle. The key players for both squads, then, are matched up at the power forward spots. Blake Griffin has absolutely ravaged Minny to the tune of 25 ppg on 56% from the floor with 11.7 rpg thrown in to boot as LA leads the season series 2-1. Minnesota’s Kevin Love hasn’t been a slouch, slapping 20.7 ppg on LAC to go with rebounding numbers and shooting percentages identical to Griffin’s. The clear advantage that the Clip Show must exploit is at point guard. Baron Davis will be able to go around, over, and through Luke Ridnour and Johnny Flynn all day, and he dominate them with his scoring and play-making (BLESS you, Baron Davis!). Ultra-athletic DeAndre Jordan has been ineffective during the 3 losses and needs to put his stamp on this game by avoiding the silly fouls, attacking the offensive glass, and wiping out his teammates mistakes at the rim. The Clips, even without the service of the Eric Gordon, have the talent. Let’s hope they have the defensive chops and intensity to send young Griffin into the All Star game on a high note.
(Thanks to Basketball-reference.com for the statistical information. Questions? Comments? Want me to give you some good West Indian recipes? Hit me, here or on Twitter, @SnottieDrippen