[Thanks to Prevenge for today's game preview. Late start, 9:30, on CSNChicago -ed.]
When VDN was coaching the Bulls last year to a 41-41 record [Was it last year? It seems like it was a million years ago, those horrible memories are so long departed], Tom Thibodeau's Boston Celtics were within one game of winning the NBA Finals.
We've already played them once before, losing 100-99 as Derrick Rose kind of re-enacted his Memphis Kodak moment [go to 1:15 if you want to see that again]. The Clippers have gone 12-7 since that time and are in some sort of contention, if they win every game from now, for the low-hanging fruit that is the last playoff spot in the Western Conference [not to be confused with the even lower-hanging fruit that is the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Did you know the 76ers are the eight seed? Wow]. I'm going to predict that VDN somehow gets another 41-41 record, because that would be a strange stat emblematic of how VDN can seem like he's getting players to play at a higher level to, in the end, get nothing but averageness.
Matchups and more rambling commentary after the jump.
Baron Davis vs. Derrick Rose: Baron Davis is so great he comes into the season overweight by 10~15 pounds and works it off over the season. He's like a sad Rasheed Wallace, because instead of winning a championship with the Pistons, he was playing in Golden State and now with the Clippers. Also, he doesn't have "Ball Don't Lie", he just has a beard that makes him look like Santa Claus. Also, Rose is god, MVP, and likes Skittles. Advantage: Chicago
Keith Bogans vs. Randy Foye: Oh, thank goodness Eric Gordon is out [my fantasy team is sad, but that's neither here nor there]. Foye sucks. Per-36 he scores 14 points on 12 shots with a FG% south of .400. This will make the Clippers much easier to defend [not that they run any offense anyways, this is VDN we're talking about here]. Remember the Keith Bogans Prophecy: 6 points is a win, as well, and we have good backups in Brewer and Korver [if the cyst isn't sidelining him]! Foye's a fairly bad defender, as his PER splits and Simple Rating show [wow, look at these splits! His PER is under 7?!?] so we may have found the one matchup where Keith Bogans actually wins. Advantage: Split [I won't believe anyone's worse than Bogans until I see it in person]
Luol Deng vs. Ryan Gomes: Ryan Gomes is starting. Clips Nation had this to say about Ryan Gomes: "Of course it's also hard not to notice that Ryan Gomes has the fifth lowest PER in the league among players who have started at least 30 games." [Who wins that PER battle? Do you really need to ask?] Deng is Deng: solid defense and ~15 PPG efficiently, a handful of boards and assists, and one of the better SF's in the league. Deng wins this by a landslide. Advantage: Chicago
Blake Griffin vs. Carlos Boozer: I'm going to call this a draw. We'll see a lot of Boozer layups and a lot of Griffin dunks. These two guys are really kind of the same player, though in different ways [They score a lot, they don't know what Defense is, they rebound a lot because they're very strong (and, in Griffin's case, mind-bogglingly athletic). Advantage: Neither
Kurt Thomas vs. DeAndre Jordan: This matchup depends on a couple things. Kurt's great at defending big, hulking centers, because they're slow. DeAndre Jordan's game is not refined at all [in general, he misses non-dunks], but he has a lot [a lot!] of athleticism. If he can run past Thomas he can use that athleticism to his advantage, but Kurt should be able to keep him off the glass and win this matchup. There's some danger in it if Boozer is guarding him and just doesn't box out, but then again, Kurt Thomas can always go off for 22. Advantage: Neither
Vinny Del Negro: Doesn't coach, instead exhorting his players to "attack!!".
Tom Thibodeau: Has turned the Bulls into the first-ranked defense in the league by a wide margin. Plays VDN with the offense most of the time for some reason. Derrick Rose is a superstar now and subject to legitimate MVP talk[screw you, Kelly Dwyer], before he was injured Noah was averaging something like 16/14, and the bulls are 33-14 despite never fielding a team at full strength.
Advantage: Thibodeau by approximately 50,000 percent. But VDN has the hair.
A lot of people are going to watch this game because of Blake Griffin [if you haven't heard, he dunks. Oh yeah, other Clippers dunk too.] With Gordon out, though, I think the Bulls should coast fairly easily to the win here [though it has to be said: we never coast]. See the Clippers blog for subplots and other things.
Of note is that we lost our home game, and this is in the Staples Center, and the Clippers are good at dunking and getting the place rocking. Sometimes.
Prediction: Bulls by 8. VDN tears his hair out somehow and gets a large black wig that falls over when he thinks [which is never, so he's safe].