The Los Angeles Clippers (12-6) will hope to continue feasting on the less fortunate this weekend, with back to back games against the Phoenix Suns (7-13) and Toronto Raptors (4-15) Saturday and Sunday. Both games tip off at 12:30.
For the Clippers, this will be a chance to extend their current four game winning streak, for the Suns, an opportunity to end their own five game skid. The Raptors, well, are just trying to do pretty much anything right at this point. Both Clipper opponents can score with the best of them – witness the Raptor’s Friday 140-133 overtime loss to Utah – but defense is certainly not a hallmark of either team. In fact, Phoenix is ranked dead last in points given up, with Toronto only two spots above them.
As for scoring, both the Suns and Raptors are capable of putting up points in bunches and like to run uptempo. The Suns are led by guards Goran Dragic (15ppg and 6 assists) and Shannon Browne (12ppg), and their capable forward duo of Luis Scola and Michael Beasley (though it looks as though Beasley is being benched after a horrendous performance against Dallas on Thursday). Center Marcin Gortat is solid in the middle with just under 10ppg. The Suns’ bench is one of the best, however, ranking 7th in the league in efficiency and points scored, so the Clippers’ second unit will definitely be challenged.
As mentioned earlier, the Toronto Raptors are constructed with lots of scoring punch, but little else. Their starting five can light it up at anytime, with Kyle Lowry, Andrea Bargnani, and Demar DeRozan all averaging over 15 points apiece. Mickael Pietrus and Jose Calderon are never shy about firing up 3-pointers, either, so the Clippers will have to be diligent about getting out to challenge them from distance. There are now rumors flying around that the Raptors are trying to land Pau Gasol from the Lakers, so it remains to be seen if this will affect the team chemistry or just be an annoying distraction. Either way, it certainly won’t help matters.
The Clippers will have to remain on guard to avoid first quarter letdowns and take a lesson from their game against Dallas on Wednesday night, when they came out crisp and firing, essentially knocking the Mavericks back on their heels and never letting up. The temptation will be to play fast and high above the rim, which can result in sloppy play, so best get substantial leads before auditioning for YouTube video highlights.
Still, we here at FullyClips expect the Clippers to comfortably notch both victories and improve to 14-6 by 4pm Sunday.
Topics: Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford, Kyle Lowry, LA Clippers, Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Clippers, Matt Barnes, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, Vinny Del Negro