If there is a team that is underachieving more than the Kings it would be the Clippers. With a record of 2-13, 2-6 at home and 0-7 on the road, this is team struggling to find a way to win. Of course, it’s fair to say that the loss of Chris Kaman who sprained his left ankle in the 8th game of the season and hasn’t played since was a major setback. Although they were 1-6 with him healthy and 1-6 since he went out. And, it didn’t help that Baron Davis has only seen 10 minutes of playing time since Oct 31 due to a knee injury.
With Davis out, 6-1 rookie PG Eric Bledsoe and 6-3 Eric Gordon are the starting backcourt. DeAndre Jordan is at center in place of Kaman. Blake Griffin is at PF and another rookie 6-9 Al-Farouq Aminu at the SF spot. That’s 3 rookies and one reserve in the starting lineup. Davis did practice on Wednesday, but was still listed as Out, and Kaman is listed as Out also. For the Kings, Tyreke Evans is listed as day to day with a bruised right elbow.
The Clippers are tied with the Twolves and the Wizards for the 2nd worst Offensive Efficiency in the League; yes even worse than the Kings. And, they have the worst Defensive Efficiency in the league. But, every dog has its day, and LA’s days were Nov 11th when they beat OKC 107-92 and last Monday when they beat the Hornets 99-95. In the Clippers 2 wins they shot at a higher than normal percentage; 52.5% against OKC and 50.7% against the Hornets. The high percentage was due to exceptional shooting inside 10ft. They were 28 for 44 or 63.6% against OKC and 18 for 31 or 58.1% against the Hornets. The Clippers also benefited from a horrible outing by Belinelli, Ariza and Paul (13 for 34 or 38.2%).
It’s pretty evident where the Clippers want to score; it’s inside 10ft. They have only made 5 or more 3pt shots in a game three times. And, they take the 2nd fewest attempts (15.9) from long 2’s and shoot the 4th lowest percentage at 36%. And, they take the 4th fewest attempts on Midrange jumpers as well, at only 5.6 per game with a percentage of only 33%.
This is a team that goes inside, and with Blake Griffin as your star where else would you expect them to go. They take 40 of their 79 attempts per game inside 10ft. In fact 22 of their 35 made baskets come inside of 10ft. Not surprisingly, they like the Kings are a good rebounding team especially on the Offensive Boards. What is surprising is that they are the 5th worst team in blocking shots at around 4 per game. Adding to their offensive problems is the fact that they have the 4th highest Turnover Rate.
Defensively, for a team that has the size to score inside, they give up the 5th highest percentage at the rim. Just as surprising is the Kings giving up the 2nd highest percentage at the rim. The Clippers give up the highest shooting percentage from 3pt range, which really doesn’t play into the Kings strengths since they are the 2nd worst 3pt shooting team in the league.
It would seem that the Kings and Clippers have similar strengths and weaknesses. Although the Kings should far outpace the Clippers defense if they can continue to execute as they have the last 3 games. In fact the outcome of the game will hinge on that one point. On every shot get a body on Griffin and keep him off the offensive boards. And, let Dalembert do what he does best when the Clippers undersized guards try scoring inside.
Can the Kings defense contain Griffin? And, can Tyreke regain his game against the porous interior defense of the Clippers. I’m going with No on Griffin and yes on Tyreke. And, that’s probably the way it should be and why we’re on national television on this holiday.
For the Kings, they need to slow down the offense; no I don’t mean getting it started. Just don’t rush and take poor shots. No crazy bull rushes from Cuz, and no wild charges and impossible layups by Tyreke. Get good position and if the shot you want isn’t there pass the ball. A bad shot can be worse than no shot. You don’t often see teams score in transition after a 24 sec. violation.
And, Evans needs to avoid stupid turnovers, that means don’t leave your feet to pass. This is a team that seldom blocks shots and doesn’t defend the rim well. Don’t make it easier for them by taking shots that aren’t in your comfort zone or when you’re out of control. And, if you are going to take a 3pt shot, get yourself set or pass the ball, there will be other opportunities. I’m looking for DeMarcus to have a good game against DeAndre, and Tyreke to find his game after 2 days of rest and a trip to the Good Feet Store. Go Kings.