Last week’s Kings/Clippers matchup proved one thing over and over—the Kings players do not like the Clippers. Los Angeles prevailed on two late Chris Paul free throws, but the Kings held their own against a superior and more talented team. Now the series heads back to Sacramento, where the Clippers have already won once. Minimal mistakes and full-time defensive effort are requirements for a victory.
Los Angeles Clippers:
|C: DeMarcus Cousins, 6’11, Kentucky |
21.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 46.1% FG
|C: DeAndre Jordan, 6’11, Texas A&M |
9.9 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 59.6% FG
|PF: Jason Thompson, 6’11, Rider |
6.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 46.8% FG
|PF: Blake Griffin, 6’9, Oklahoma |
21.6 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 54.9% FG
|SF: Travis Outlaw, 6’8, Starkville HS |
6.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 46.8% FG
|SF: Jared Dudley, 6’7, Boston College |
8.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 46.4% FG
|SG: Ben McLemore, 6’5, Kansas |
8.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 37.4% FG
|SG: J.J. Redick, 6’4, Duke |
15.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 46% FG, 36.4% 3P
|PG: Greivis Vasquez, 6’6, Maryland |
10.6 PPG, 5.2 APG, 47.3% FG
|PG: Chris Paul, 6’3, Wake Forest |
19 PPG, 12.2 APG, 2.3 SPG, 45.6% FG
Key Bench Players:
|G: Isaiah Thomas, 5’11, Washington |
28.3 MPG, 17.9 PPG, 4.6 APG, 46% FG
|G: Darren Collison, 6’0, UCLA |
14.9 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 1.8 APG, 39.5% FG
|F: Derrick Williams, 6’8, Arizona |
14.7 MPG, 4.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 35.2% FG
|G: Jamal Crawford, 6’5, Michigan |
25.9 MPG, 14.8 PPG, 45.5% FG
|F: Patrick Patterson, 6’9, Kentucky |
23.6 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 40% FG
|F: Antawn Jamison, 6’9, North Carolina |
15.5 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 2 RPG, 43.8% FG
Last Three Contests:
November 23, 2013: Kings @ Clippers – Clippers 103, Kings 102
November 1, 2013: Clippers @ Kings – Clippers 110, Kings 101
April 17, 2013: Clippers @ Kings – Clippers 112, Kings 108
Cousins doesn’t like the Clippers, and the Clippers don’t like Cousins (see here for the amusing evidence). He finished with 23 , 19 rebounds and seven assists in the loss last Saturday, and was visibly fuming after the loss. He’s got a good chance on Friday to seek his revenge.
Jordan is a good defender, but he’s not otherworldly, and the Clippers will need to throw the double team on him. If that happens, he can take advantage by finding the open man (as he did on Saturday with his seven assists). Patrick Patterson and Jason Thompson need to take advantage of the double when Blake Griffin shifts to help Jordan.
Three Things to Watch:
1. Williams Watch: While it’s possible new King Derrick Williams starts on Friday, it wasn’t a sure thing come press time and gut-instinct leans me towards expecting Coach Malone to stick with Travis Outlaw or John Salmons for a game or two.
Needless, Williams will likely see time, and probably a lot at the small forward. A Royal Pain’s opinions on the new King and his potential at the 3 spot are chronicled here—however Malone plays it out, it’ll be interesting to see the role of the newbie Williams.
2. Contain Paul: Chris Paul was the reason the Clippers managed the win in Los Angeles. His late game performance, while a bit…floppy…was clutch. Isaiah Thomas had much better success defending him then Greivis Vasquez, but it’s a whole team effort when it comes to stopping a star like Paul.
The Clippers boast the leagues’ second most successful offense (107 points a game), and that is due in large part to their dynamic passing attack (25.3 assists per game, highest in the league). Blake Griffin and JJ Redick are dangerous, but stop Paul, and you stop the Clippers.
Paul suffered a strained hamstring in the Clippers win over the Knicks on Wednesday, but he fully expects to play.
3. Team Defense Wins This: The Clippers defense is still far below what Doc Rivers expects it to be, although the Kings defense isn’t anything to write home either.
Malone hasn’t had success getting every one of his players fully invested into the defensive end yet, and it’s sent Marcus Thornton and John Salmons to the bench. Against a dominant offense like the Clippers, a full team press will be necessary.
The Kings love the fast pace, but they aren’t as adept or built for it as the Clippers are. Slowing down the tempo and keeping up in transition defense are absolute necessities. Sacramento didn’t manage that level of defense in the first half of Saturday’s loss, but their second half defense was excellent. A full game of that level of tenacity would allow Big Cuz and company revenge.
Prediction: Cousins goes crazy, Williams proves solid in his opener, and the Kings feed off a raucous crowd—Kings 103, Clippers 94