Everyone's favorite pitiful team, the Los Angeles Clippers, will make their only trip to the Wells Fargo Center today. Their arrival represents the Sixers last "winable" game before the Lakers on Friday followed by an outlandish 8-game road trip that will take us past the New Year. I'd like to see the Sixers set the tone with a demonstrative win and some quality basketball.
Blake Griffin and Eric Gordan have been absolutely dominant in leading the Clippers to their 5-20 record. If they go off tonight, well, the Clippers are probably still going to lose. That doesn't mean we should just sit back and let them have their way, though.
The first thing the Sixers should do is put a blanket on Gordon. By that, I mean you put Jodie Meeks on Al-Farouq Aminu and you put Andre Iguodala on Gordon. If the Clippers decide they want to attack the Aminu/Meeks mismatch, I'm fine with that. I welcome it. Tell Iguodala to lace his sneakers extra tight and keep Gordon out of the lane. Make him shoot threes (he's shooting 27% on 5 attempts/game, this season), just make sure he's not getting to the line, where he's doing most of his damage.
The Sixers don't have an answer for Blake Griffin. Athletic bigs devastate them, especially on the offensive glass, and Griffin is not only athletic, he's aggressive and talented. The best thing they can do is make him work on the other end. Brand should be able to have his way with him on the blocks (if he isn't dead tired from the 38 minutes he played last night). Gordon's quick, but he can't hang with Thad on those drives from the top the key. Keep attacking him and you're going to either get a bunch of easy hoops or you're going to get Griffin in foul trouble. DeAndre Jordan is another guy that's going to cause problems on the offensive glass, I don't know how you match up with his size.
At the point, Eric Bledsoe is a huge fan of turning the ball over. Jrue needs to pester him - without fouling - and make it hard for Bledsoe to initiate the offense. On the other end, Jrue has a decent size advantage on Bledsoe, and should look to take advantage of it. Last night, he got the ball in the post a couple of times, but shuffled his feet before hitting an easy turnaround over his man. Clean that up and it's a weapon.
The Clippers have absolutely no bench (unless Baron Davis suddenly gets in shape and stops being a team killer). Expect Thad and Lou to outscored LA's bench by themselves.
The Clips are 0-10 on the road. They're near the bottom of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Vinny Del Negro shuffled is grasping at straws, and actually went away from his youth-laden starting lineup for their last game in Orlando. I'm not sure if those changes will bleed into tonight's game or not. The Clips also haven't played since Sunday, while the Sixers played last night. This game has to be a win.
I mostly talked about the matchups if Aminu and Bledsoe start. If they don't, however, some things need to change. First of all, you can't put Meeks on Ryan Gomes. He's like a bull in a china shop. Iguodala would have to take that matchup. Instead, I'd switch the matchups among guards. Put Meeks on Baron Davis, play off him and dare him to shoot jumpers. Put Jrue on Eric Gordon, with the same instructions. Keep him out of the lane, keep him off the line. The veteran starting lineup worries me more than the young one. Gomes has always given the Sixers fits.
Prediction: Sixers 97, Clippers 89
The tip is at 7pm, game thread will be up at 5:30. Also, Derek Bodner and I will host another episode of SixersBeat after the game. I'll post all the info later on.