Short one today…

I’ve watched more Clippers games this seasons than the rest of my life combined; they almost play my perfect brand of basketball…Blake needs to take it to the rack more and they’d be perfect.

Had a few words with Jovan Buha from the Clippers Blog:

Knowing what you know now, did the Clippers pay too high a price for Paul?

No. I look at it this way — are the Clippers set up better now or in the future after the trade? I say both. There’s no way L.A. would be consistently beating elite teams with last year’s squad and simply the additions of Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups. In the future, with time to gel and additions through free agency and trades, they’re only going to get better. If the last four games have proven anything, Paul is the Clippers’ offensive maestro and the difference-maker from being a playoff team and being a contender.

Is it a big problem that Blake likes to shoot long jumpers more than he attacks the rim like a rabid animal off the high screen?

Yes, it’s a huge problem. Blake’s jumper, while improved, is far from a proven product. His outside shooting efficiency is actually down from 33 percent to 31 percent this year but that’s more of a reflection of his 4.8 attempts per game (too high and as a result, lowers his percentage out there). When he attacks the rim, he’s much, much better (71.0 percent shooting at the rim). A pick-and-roll with Paul is much more efficient if Griffin rolls towards rim destruction.

Is Neil Olshey executive of the year?

Yes, thus far it appears Neil Olshey should be the executive of the year. He turned a laughingstock franchise into a fringe contender with the Chris Paul trade and signings of Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups (for $2,000,032!). Who else made better moves this offseason?

Injuries

Toronto
Andrea Bargnani – Calf, should play
Jerryd Bayless – game-time decision, should play

Los Angeles
Chris Paul – Hamstring, game-time decision
Caron Butler – Knee, questionable

Match-ups

Point Guard
Paul is sick. Mo Williams is a solid back-up. Bledsoe is better than any back-up we got. And Chauncey can make it happen if he gets the call. That’s about all she wrote.
Edge: Clippers

Shooting Guard
At least DeMar showed up for the Blazers game on Friday; it took him 21 shots to get 22 points, but at least he got to the line 10 times. He hasn’t stepped up in Bargnani’s absence, but neither has anyone else really. While Billups wont break him down off the bounce, he will make him pay for every inch of open space DeRozan gives him and play tight defense on our boy.
Edge: Clippers

Small Forward
It’s going to be frustrating to watch a juicy, out of shape Caron Butler make things happen against our defense, but that’s exactly what’s going  down this afternoon. If Caron doesn’t go, the Raptors small forwards are actually better than anything the Clippers have.
Edge: Clippers

Power Forward
Bargnani’s supposed to play,  but he’s been sitting for over a week now and wont be crisp. There isn’t a whole he can do to control Griffin if he gets it in his head, but if he isn’t too much out of game shape, he can make things difficult on the phenom. Expect too see a lot of dunks and offensive rebound-put-backs tonight from the Clips, though.
Edge: Clippers

Center
Amir Johnson is a poor mans DeAndre Jordan. You could make the case that Amir has better offensive weapons, but what he does better on defense, Jordan more than makes up for on defense. The Raptors have more depth here, but Jordan is a work horse; it might even out since DeAndre doesn’t do enough outside of blocking shots and dunking (work with me here, I couldn’t give them a clean sweep).
Edge: Even

Keys to the Game

  1. Let Blake shoot the ball every time he gets it; it’s frustrating to watch, but he loves the jumper, and shouldn’t be a go-to thing for him. Off the high pick-n-roll, let the guy roll and force Paul create some genius on every possession.
  2. Control the boards; outside of Griffin and Paul, the rest of the team is pretty average to mediocre.
  3. Make the Clippers work defensively; Chris Paul is injured and limping, Jordan can be bated with a pump-fake and Blake isn’t making all defensive team (although he can make highlight blocks). The Clippers are going to score, nothing the Raptors can do to stop that, but if we make them work a little, hopefully the early start time will mess with them

The Line

The Clippers are 9.5 point favourites at home with an over/under of 184.5; I’m setting the over/under of Blake and Jordan dunking at 10. The Clippers dropped a heart breaker against the Timberwolves on Friday, and should be plenty pissed off today. If Bargnani is playing, and isn’t too rusty, the Raptors should cover. It’s starting to get more serious than just covering games and looking at the bright-side of things, though. The Raptors have dropped 7 in a row, and could easily drop the next 5 on the road. Have to make a stand sometime, yea?

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