Squaring things up: Los Angeles Clippers @ Boston Celtics preview

Los Angeles Clippers logo
Los Angeles Clippers logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last time we faced the Clippers, it was a 77-106 thrashing of the beat-me-down variety. Without court leader Chris Paul to lead the charge, will the C’s retaliate in kind tomorrow? This will be another of those zombie hour games, expect me to be well and asleep unless the little one keeps me up.

Fact: The Clippers have won 6 of their last 11 games since Chris Paul’s injury, going 4-8 on the road so far.


Game time: 4 Feb 2013, 0500hrs AEDT

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL.

2. Jared Sullinger is out for the season after his back operation.

3. Chris Paul (knee bruise) still has not returned to practice, a sure sign that he will not be playing.

4. Jamal Crawford broke his nose last game, and is a game-time decision at the moment.

5. Chauncey Billups (foot tendonitis) is still aiming for a return on this road trip, date unknown.

6. Matt Barnes is listed as probable for the game, but highly likely after serving his one game suspension.

Defense

Granted the Clippers bench are a talented bunch, but their forte lies in forcing the transition game from their stifling defense.

Slow the Clippers down to a half-court crawl, stop them from pushing the ball and we will definitely have a good shot at containing the shot. Without their floor general, the Clippers are

Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin during a ga...
Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin during a game against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington on March 12, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

more prone to isolation sets and will definitely move the ball less effectively. Have our Pitbulls keep the defensive pressure up, clamp down on the perimeter offense. Pierce needs to do his number on Butler and play him up hard. A tough load for the captain considering his considerable burdens on both ends of the court, but we need the Truth to pull the cart every game, more than ever.

I’m relatively confident on our starters matching the Clippers’ starting lineup on defense (likely Jordan/Griffin/Butler/Bledsoe/Green), but will the bench be up to the task? Should Crawford not be playing, it deprives them of an excellent (debatable due to shot selection) one-on-one attacker. It’s unlikely Barnes will miss the game as well, but the key is to still the same – force them off the easy shot, contain the second chance points. Our rebounding has taken a definite hit with Sully off, Odom and Turiaf need to be denied on the boards.

An interesting note: how will Brandon Bass deal with Blake Griffin on the block? Do you body him up and force him off the shot, or would you leave the shot over his spin moves into the paint? Now that Griffin has developed a somewhat consistent shot, he is becoming more difficult to deal with.

Offense

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

The Clippers are an outstanding defensive team this season, ranking 4th in the league on points allowed (93.4 PPG). No sloppy turnovers, no stupid mistakes. We cannot afford to give away easy points off transition, and to allow them to get into their game is basically committing suicide.

Let Pierce dictate the flow of the offense, utilise KG as the passing pivot. Keep the ball sharing up, keep moving the ball. More drives, less lazy jumpshots. Green has to abuse his speed advantage on defensive mismatches now that Sully is gone, seeing as he will likely be playing the 4. It’s likely he will be matched against wily defensive vet Grant Hill, it will be a good test of his offensive skills this time round.

Will Bass continue his revived scoring binge? This is something I’m looking forward to finding out. Does Rondo’s absence truly make a difference in his FG%?

I believe our offense has always, and will always be up to the task when we share the ball. Admittedly, this is something that has not been happening very well (in my opinion) ever since the offensive system featured Rondo being the primary ballhandler and executor on the half-court. Honestly, I’m happy to see the team moving the ball well in his absence, and perhaps this will prove to be a hint to the coaches that the original Rondo-heavy offensive system isn’t the best thing for the Celtics as a team, and that some tweaks are needed to turn the offensive movement up a notch.


How do you think the game will roll? An absolute gnasher and scrappy victory? A kick to the teeth even without their key players? I’m hoping we sort the Clippers out the right way, this will be a good gauge of how the team is adjusting to life against a potential contender without Rondo and Sully.

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