There are two brothers.
One is a born winner. The other toils in the gutters of life.
One is full of charisma. The other has about as much personality as a desk lamp.
One brother has tons of famous friends. The other has…Frankie Muniz.
I think you can see where I am headed here.
The Lakers and the Clippers are about as dissimilar as possible.
The Lakers lineage of great Centers includes Kareem, Wilt and George.
The Clippers also have a tradition at the 5 spot: utter and complete futility (See: Michael Olowakandi, Keith Closs and Benoit Benjamin).
The 2007-08 Season has been a shining example of the contrast of these two Los Angeles franchises. Both teams were hampered by injuries. The Lakers losing emerging forces Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza while the Clippers lost all-star Forward Elton Brand and young upstart Guard Shaun Livingston. The Lakers so far have responded by posting their best mark in the post-Shaq era at 53-25. The Clippers are yet again looking at the lottery with a abysmal 23-55, their ninth losing season in ten years.
While things are looking brighter for the Lakers, their terrifyingly weak defense in Portland still shows that there is room to grow. Yet facing a Clipper team without Corey Maggette and Chris Kaman should prove to be an easier task.
As the Lakers look forward to their weekend mini-playoff preview with mammoth games against New Orleans on Friday and San Antonio on Sunday (which may see the much anticipated return of Andrew Bynum) they must not let another sub-.500 team, much less their Staples Center cellar dwellers, steal a contest.
Thanks Varsity Optimism for the intro, will now release your KOBE/GASOL ‘08 Bumper Stickers. You should get them in the mail soon.
Now onto Jonny’s Game Preview…
Injury List -
Lakers: Bynum (out), Ariza (out), Walton (day-to-day)
Clippers: Maggette (day-to-day), Kaman (doubtful), Livingston (out) Paul Davis (out)
Look at that injury list, the loss of Kaman and Maggette is huge for the Clippers. Since they don’t have anyone to play center, Brand will get that spot being all of 6-8ft tall. Josh Powell and Tim Thomas are the only taller options, but they aren’t expected to see major minutes at the center spot.
If Kaman and Maggette are both cleared to play this review could be rendered obsolete even before the game starts, a rare occurrence I assure you.
Marquee Matchups -
Point Guard – D-Fish and Farmar vs. Brevin Knight? Dan Dickau?: It’s hard to figure out who is going to start against the Lakers today. Personally, I can’t wait to see the Farmar vs. Smush match up. Imagine two fans at a sports bar:
Clipper Fan: Well, Smush is taller, and…
Laker Fan: And what, huh? And he plays great defense? And he makes his free throws? And he shoots a great percentage from… anywhere?
Clipper Fan: and he’s on a really cheap contract.?
… Yeah, we’ve heard that one before.
Shooting Guard – Kobe vs. Cuttino Mobley? Quinton Ross?: Quinton Ross scored 10 points against Denver on Tuesday: Good for him. I still can’t figure out if the punchline should be that that’s only his sixth time this season or that Quinton Ross went for double figures against the Denver defense.
Small Forward – Vladdy vs. Cuttino Mobley? Corey Maggette?: Vladdy has finally been doing what we signed him to do last year -make 3-pointers. He’s a remarkable 16-30 over the last 5 games, and that includes the 0-4 stinker against Washington. Mobley had a good game against the Nuggets, but even so, his struggle this year has been consistency,
Advantage: Lakers, on current form.
Power Forward – Lamar vs. Al Thornton: Beyond the fact that Lamar is on an absolute tear, going 33-50 with no 3-point attempts (!!) over the last five games, I actually like this match up for Odom. The last time these two met, Odom held Thornton to 2 points on 1-9 shooting while throughly outplaying Thornton in every statistical category (if you don’t believe me, check the box score).
Center – Pau Gasol vs. Elton Brand: The Clippers offense has been focused on re-assimilating Brand back into the offense and getting him familiar with Thornton, with the focus more on next season. While he’s not quite back to being a solid 20/10 guy, he is averaging 18/7. Pau also isn’t up to full strength and might not be able to fully take advantage of Brands rustiness.
Bench: It’s been ages it seems since Farmar has shot well from behind the arc. In his last 5 games, he is 1-12 and only shot 17-56 in March. But at the same time, every time he was in the game against Portland, good things seemed to happen. As it was, Farmar had a Laker-high +6 for the game while Fisher had a Laker-worst -17.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Turiaf left the Lakers after this season. I mean, on the right team he could really contribute, but on the Lakers he’s been given inconsistent minutes and figures to be behind Pau, Lamar, and possibly even Vladdy in the depth chart at the 4 and definitely behind Bynum and Pau at the 5. I love the guy, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think it would be fair for him to spend his prime years being a 10-15 minute energy guy.
In other news, Nick Fazekas is apparently a Clipper now.
Key Matchup -
Gasol vs. Brand: What if we could get Brand into early foul trouble? This would force the Clippers to play small ball, but without the personnel to do it! Talk about blowing out a rival on their “home” court!
Let’s play Coach!
Lakers: They need to establish Pau early. The Clippers aren’t a really good defensive team, so inside out ball movement should always produce a good shot. They’ll need to contain Al Thornton and Elton Brand. Kobe may play a little weak-side defense and try to get blocks… at the expense of leaving Quinton Ross open of course.
Clippers: Watch for them to try posting up Brand whenever possible because, although he may be shorter than Pau, he has the definite physical edge.
Statistical Predictions -
There will be stats!!! (Ha.. Ha.. Ha..)
20+ Points: Kobe, Gasol, and Lamar.
10+ Rebounds: Lamar.
2+ Blocks: Kobe, Odom, Turiaf.
3+ 3pointers: Vladdy, Sasha.
Closest To A Triple-Double: Lamar.
Out On A Limb: Smush gets two technicals, the first one for arguing that his discontinued dribble move is totally legit on the streets of NY, and the second one for complaining that Kobe should get a technical for disrespecting the best player in the game.
Game Information -
Radio: KLAC & KWKW.
Burning Questions -
What do you guys think will happen to Turiaf?
Enjoy the game, folks!