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Lob City makes lone appearance in Motown

Essentials

  • Teams: Los Angeles Clippers (17-6) at Detroit Pistons (7-19)
  • Date: December 17, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

Instead of doing the traditional preview, PistonPowered reached out to Jovan Buha of Clipperblog, the ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate blog for the Los Angeles Clippers to get his thoughts on the Clips’ play this season as well as their recent stretch of consecutive victories.

J.M. Poulard, PistonPowered: The Los Angeles Clippers are coming to town tonight but they’re not last year’s Clippers. Instead, they’ve morphed into a slightly different team that executes better in the half court and has an impressive bench to give them some really good production.

This partly explains why the Clips have one of the best records in the Western Conference and sport a terrific plus-8.4 scoring differential on the season.

Jamal Crawford might just make some casual Lakers fans crossover to the to Clips (see what I did there?) bandwagon, while Vinny Del Negro reaps the benefits of it all.

But if there’s really one area Lob City has destroyed opponents, it’s unquestionably at the point guard position. So tell me oh wise one, how does it feel to have the best point guard tandem in the NBA?

Jovan Buha, Clipperblog: It’s calming. There’s really no other way to describe it. For 48 minutes a game, you never have to worry about the offense being run, the right guys getting touches and (almost) every possession being maximized.

The Clippers have not only the game’s best point guard, but the game’s best point guards as well.  That’s insane to think about.

Both are pests defensively, Paul more so in the passing lanes, and Bledsoe more as an on-the-ball bulldog (a bulldog who can also block shots with his head and challenge Dwyane Wade at the rim).

And, of course, they’re much different players offensively.

Paul’s the pick-and-roll mastermind, shifting his way to the basket, stepping back for a cool midrange jumper, or hitting a cutting Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan for a highlight reel dunk. He has as many tools in his arsenal as any point guard, and he’s always under control. His teammate and “big brother”, Chauncey Billups, is nicknamed “Mr. Big Shot”, but that moniker may apply to CP3 more than anyone else.

Bledsoe can get into the lane with ease, has improved his shot, and is probably the most athletic guard in the NBA — maybe Russell Westbrook or a healthy Derrick Rose have a say in that, but it’s unlikely. He would start for over half of the team’s in the NBA; the fact that he doesn’t start on this team is a bit perplexing.

With that said, it’s difficult to complain with these two as Clippers.

J.M. Poulard: Completely agree with you Jovan, the point guard play has been instrumental to the team’s early success and there’s no reason to think that is going to change.

Another aspect that’s provided a lot of intrigue around the league is the Clippers’ efficient post play. Blake Griffin is still a highflyer but he can also create a plethora of high percentage shots from the low post and that’s been quite evident this season. He’s looked more patient down on the block with the ball, giving the impression that he now knows what coverage to expect from defenses and how to take advantage of it whether by pass or by going through with his move. Defenders are at his mercy to some extent as his footwork is pretty much the same, but it seems to be much quicker; it’s as if he worked on it with Apollo Creed after seeing Rocky III.

The stats bear it out as well: MySynergySports tells us that he is converting 50 percent of his shots out of post ups as opposed to 44.9 percent from last season.

Furthermore, DeAndre Jordan’s offensive improvement has resulted in him being a legitimate post threat that defenses have to honor. Indeed, Synergy tells us he took 33 shots out of post ups last season but has blown that figure away this year having already accumulated 54 such field goal attempts.

All of these fancy stats lead me to one question: is their a frontcourt that you feel can matchup with the Clippers?

Jovan Buha: Great question. Honestly, I’m not sure. The only two frontcourts that come to mind are Memphis’ and the Lakers’.

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph each have a size advantage (width-wise) on the Clippers’ bigs, so they can negate some of their effectiveness by being physical and knocking them out of their comfort spots. Plus, Griffin and Randolph don’t exactly like each other, so that’s always a heated matchup.

Then, of course, the Lakers are super long and talented defensively (at least in the interior) so they can limit some of the high flying act that is known as Lob City. Pau Gasol has traditionally defended Griffin well, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

Besides those two, there aren’t really any frontcourts that can match their size, talent and skill. There definitely aren’t any frontcourts that can match their athleticism.

Smallball lineups could be a problem — Miami with Bosh/LeBron, Oklahoma City with Ibaka/Durant, New York with Chandler/Carmelo — but in that case, the Clippers would likely insert Matt Barnes, or even the suddenly energized and skinnier Lamar Odom for Jordan.

The Clippers have a lot of options. That’s all you can ask for.

J.M. Poulard: I totally tricked you! Essentially what you’re saying is that the Pistons frontcourt shouldn’t pose any problem for the likes of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Lamar Odom.

To be fair, Detroit’s porous interior defense may in fact surrender a multitude of open looks in the paint to the Clips, which could spell doom for the Pistons.

Nonetheless, I’m curious to see if Lawrence Frank exclusively matches Andre Drummond against Lamar Odom, or if he’ll allow his prized rookie to see some minutes against Blake Griffin.

With that said, the Clippers are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak, with six of those victories coming by double digits. What’s been the most impressive aspect of the Clippers during their most recent run?

Jovan Buha: The most impressive part has unquestionably been their bench.

The Clippers’ starters tend to get out to lackadaisical starts, rarely manifesting a large first quarter lead no matter the opponent. Then the bench comes in, and it’s all downhill for the opposing team.

Bledsoe wreaks havoc on point guards and has one or two jaw-dropping plays a game; Jamal Crawford provides the offensive foundation; Ronny Turiaf does the dirty work down low; Lamar Odom is a surprisingly solid defender who can obviously move the ball and facilitate; and Matt Barnes has arguably become the MVP of the bench recently — he does a little bit of everything.

During this streak, the starters haven’t had to play that much, if at all, in the fourth quarter. Simply put, the Clippers’ bench extends leads, not loses them.

How many teams can say that?

There’s a reasonable argument that LA’s bench has actually outplayed their starters.

J.M. Poulard: Great breakdown of the Los Angeles Clippers Jovan, and thanks for stopping by. Hopefully we can do this again when the Detroit Pistons travel to L.A. for the rematch.

Read about the Clippers

Clipperblog.

24 Comments

  • Dec 17, 20126:22 pm
    by DasMark

    Reply

    The Clips back-up PG, Bledsoe is better than any guard Detroit has on staff. Hell, I would warrant Jamal Crawford is better than Knight or Stuckey. Forget about even comparing Knight to Chris Paul. 

    The Clippers are better than Detroit at every single position. It would be surprising if Detroit kept it close, much less pulled out a win unless the Clips just take the game off.  

  • Dec 17, 20128:35 pm
    by domnick

    Reply

    where’s stuckey?

    • Dec 17, 20128:46 pm
      by Daniel J. Luke

      Reply

      Announcers are saying he is out with a sore/strained back tonight. 

      • Dec 17, 20128:50 pm
        by domnick

        Reply

        oh thanks mate…

        hmmm too bad.. we need his production tonight.. but well i hope he’s ok next game

        • Dec 17, 20129:40 pm
          by Otis

          Reply

          Maybe I’m just arguing semantics here, but is it possible to “need” anyone’s production in an unwinnable game?

  • Dec 17, 20129:38 pm
    by Otis

    Reply

    1) Brandon Knight is downright embarrassing as a point guard. Worse than Stuckey ever was. It looks like he’s not even trying to make plays for anyone. This is a serious problem, and it needs to be addressed.

    2) Absolutely thrilled to see Corey Maggette outside the rotation. The first good thing that’s happened all season. If he can’t establish any trade value, which by now is something I think we can all agree on, it’s inappropriate to play him at all. 

    • Dec 17, 201210:00 pm
      by I HATE FRANK

      Reply

      this was his worst game of the month….against one of the best PG in the league and against a really good trapping defense…

      smh 

      • Dec 17, 201210:07 pm
        by Otis

        Reply

        I’m not interested in making excuses for anyone. No matter who he’s up against, he’s got no business running the offense. The ball’s in his hands all the time and it’s flippin’ Christmas when he gets you 5 assists. He doesn’t have the court vision, passing skills. He’s a good shooter and a terrific spot-up shooter, but he’s not a point guard by any stretch of the imagination.

    • Dec 17, 201210:04 pm
      by Merwin

      Reply

      I can’t see the game.  What makes Knight so embarrassing?  His stat line looks decent enough.  Certainly good enough (especially for just a second year player) to not be called an embarrassment.  What did he do that was so awful?

      • Dec 17, 201210:14 pm
        by Otis

        Reply

        He doesn’t make any of his teammates better ever. Just dribbles around a lot and sometimes takes a shot or throws a risky pass or just takes the ball past the half court line and hands it off to someone who knows what they’re doing. He’s proven that he can shoot and with range, but 16 points on 16 shots with a turnover for each of his assists isn’t particularly decent for a kid who’s started a full season’s worth of games and is somehow supposed to be the point guard of the future.

        He’d be a fine combo guard off the bench, and so would Stuckey, but neither one looks like a starting point guard in this league, and I’m not sure this team s big enough for both of them.  

        • Dec 17, 201210:16 pm
          by Merwin

          Reply

          I admit that I get to see hardly any games, but your opinion of him seems wildly premature to me.  I hope I’m right.

          • Dec 17, 201210:50 pm
            by Otis

            LOL Keep hoping, buddy…

  • Dec 17, 20129:56 pm
    by jingzy

    Reply

    this is flat out embarrassing sh……. 

  • Dec 17, 20129:59 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    good effort…and thanks for the Show Blake …off the Glass Sickness… 

    One day that will be my pistons and Drummond

  • Dec 17, 201210:05 pm
    by vic

    Reply

    who’d have thought they’d see a day where CV and Daye combine for 30 minutes and Jerebko plays 0.

    No wonder our record is so horrible… 

  • Dec 17, 201210:14 pm
    by Mark

    Reply

    CV + Daye + Max = 10 pts, 5 rebs in 55 min

    Drummond = 7 pts, 6 rebs in 19 min

    ugh 

  • Dec 17, 201210:25 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    Maxiell is SUCH A HORRIBLE REBOUNDER! He had like 3 rebounds through 3 qrts ….if his jumper isn’t falling he is just a average defender…who doesn’t rebound…

    • Dec 17, 201211:11 pm
      by Mark

      Reply

      Actually he had 2 rebs through 4 qtrs lol

  • Dec 17, 201210:45 pm
    by menten

    Reply

    why can’t maxiell just die? is it really so hard?

    • Dec 17, 201210:54 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      Ummm… he did a pretty darn good job containing Blake Griffin, and he probably has plenty of trade value to a real NBA team in need of frontcourt depth. So hopefully Joe Dumars is smart enough to trade him for a late first round pick or something. I think that’s better than a premature death that nets the Pistons nothing.

      On the other hand, if Joe does as I expect him to and not only keeps Maxiell past the deadline but extends his contract– and let’s face it, this is probably more likely than pulling the trigger on a trade that temporarily sets the team back– I might cosign your morbid question and include Joe in it.

      • Dec 17, 201211:34 pm
        by ZekeKhaseli

        Reply

        Maxiell is the least talented player on the team. He’s an energy guy like JYD used to be, minus the fun. He has no business posing as a starter. 

        • Dec 17, 201211:43 pm
          by Otis

          Reply

          Well I don’t think he’s the LEAST talented player on the roster, but you’ll get no argument from me about his status as a starter. I think the fact that he’s starting for our team is a horrifying indictment on Joe Dumars and the entire organization.

          That said, I bet almost anybody would agree that he is playing well this season, contributing to the team, and should have decent trade value to a contender looking for big man depth. But the bottom line is that no combination of players on this team ever had a chance of making the playoffs this season.

          The thing that scares me is that, based on Joe’s recent track record, he’ll hold onto Maxiell past the trade deadline because he doesn’t want to risk a meaningless step backwards in a meaningless season. Which just amounts to saving face at the expense of the franchise’s future.

          • Dec 17, 201211:50 pm
            by Mark

            Its strange because that used to be the opposite of Joe’s MO. When he started out he was famous for getting rid of players/coachs right when they started having success. And it always worked out where we ended up getting someone even better instead, and his timing proved perfect. 

            But lately its like once someone has even an above average year, he suddenly wants to sign them to a career deal.

  • Dec 18, 201212:01 am
    by Lake Side Live

    Reply

    Here is an old trade rumor that I think screams Joe D.  It’s from this spanish news website so take it with a grain of salt. 

    http://www.marca.com/2012/11/28/en/more_sports/1354135375.html

    Basically we give Kim English to the Timberwolves, Charlie V to the Wizards and JJ goes to the lakers.  And who do we get in return Emeka Okafor and his 14.7 million dollar contract for the 2013-2014 season.  That’s right the answer has been in front of us the whole time Emeka Okafor.  Now the kicker as it follows the Maxiell thread-  We’re letting go Charlie and JJ and losing Austin Daye after the season.  We have to keep Jason Maxiell for OUR frontcourt Depth.  How will do it well you know a nice chunck will be taken out of the 17 million we’ll have from Maggette, Daye, and Bynum’s expiring contracts.

    Yeah buddy Maxiell, OKafor and Stuckey and Knight still at the point.  If this went down how would you react?      
      

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