The Clippers are a team that went into this season thinking the natural progression of their young players would offset any drop-off from the previous charmed year. However, Shaun Livingston and Chris Kaman have not made any kind of leap in production, and Kaman has in fact been worse this season. Couple that unexpected plateau with dropoffs from veterans like Mobley and (very loosely termed) former Bull Tim Thomas, and the Clippers hovering around .500 halfway through the season isn't hard to figure out. However, since Sam Cassell's return they have gone 7-3.
Offensively they operate kindof opposite of what the Bulls do, as the Bulls are a jump-shooting team who shoot well from 3 and the Clips are a team that gets to the line, led by foul-drawing savant Corey Maggette. Maggette has been rumored out of LA for months now, but while ownership has recently tried to quiet those rumors, he still is coming off the bench behind their starting defensive ace Quinton Ross. They are also one of the more notably bigger front lines in the NBA, possibly enough to scare Skiles into going for 'size' in the starting lineup with Malik Allen. I wish instead he opted for 'good', but we'll see. (No indications yet as to whether Ben Wallace will be available tonight.)
Defensively the Clippers may have trouble with the Bulls speed, as SBNation brother-site ClipsNation notes:
In a lineup that features Hinrich at the 1, Gordon at the 2 and Luol Deng at the 3, it will be hard for the Clippers to hide Sam Cassell on D. Sam will have to try to stay in front of Hinrich, while Ross will try to shutdown Gordon and Cat will draw Deng. (QRoss may be better equipped to guard Gordon than any player in the league.) If Hinrich is torching Sam, MDSr will have to go to Livingston early.
It's been 4 long days since the Bulls last game, I'm excited to get this road trip started. And to get the team's road record and record against the West more reputable. They're a different team than they were in November. Right?
Blogging with the Enemy: ClipperBlog.com (I look forward to their detailed breakdown of a key stretch in the game tomorrow. Hopefully it involves Ben Gordon wielding that 'torch' that Wayne always mentions.)
This is an open game thread, so share the caffeine that some of us may need tonight with this late start.