Clippers-Hornets Preview: Three Things to Watch


Who: Los Angeles Clippers (7-5) at Charlotte Hornets (4-10)
When:  7:00 p.m. EST (4:00 p.m. PST)
Line: Clippers -4.5

Leading Scorers:
(LAC) Blake Griffin – 22.2 PPG
(CHA) Al Jefferson – 21.0 PPG

1) The Clippers are beating up on the ‘little guys’

This may or may not surprise you, depending  on how you’ve felt about the Clippers through their first 12 games of the season, but this team has a 4-0 record against teams that a below .500 record. The Charlotte Hornets? They’ve a record of 4-10.

Victory isn’t necessarily guaranteed because of the underwhelming Hornets, but it speaks greatly to what has gone right or wrong for the Clippers this season — they’re beating the teams they’re “supposed” to beat while struggling against elite teams (they’ve a record of 3-5 against above .500 teams).

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  • 2) Can DeAndre Jordan stop Al Jefferson?

    Three things are guaranteed in life: Death, taxes, and Doc Rivers calling DeAndre Jordan the best defensive player in the league. To be honest, Jordan isn’t the best defensive player in the league, his conference (Serge Ibaka maybe), or his own division (Andrew Bogut), and only by default is he the best defender on his own team, though Chris Paul is better at defending his respective position.

    Regardless of that, Rivers’ claim will be put the test tonight against one of the best low-post players in the league in Al Jefferson. If last night showed us anything, Jefferson — like Marc Gasol who finished with 30 points last night — will have his way with DAJ. Despite the team struggles, Jefferson is still producing on a nightly basis, averaging 21 points on 49 percent shooting.

    These kind of matchup, as well as defending the paint in general, will dictate if Jordan gets overpaid this summer — odds are that’s going to happen anyway. Are we expecting him to completely shut down Jefferson? That’d be asking too much, but hindering him nearly irrelevant would do wonders for the Clippers chances of walking away with a victory.

    3) Suffocating Defense

    In a league where spacing on the offensive end of the floor is the premium, the Charlotte Hornets have come up extremely short in that category, and this could play in the hand of Doc Rivers’ defensive strategy. With Al Jefferson the teams leading scorer, teams are able to clog the lane due to the inability of Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker to consistently knock down threes.

    On the season, Stephenson and Walker are a combined 25-of-91, or 27 percent. That’s … well, not good, and smart defenses should (and must) take advantage of this (think Spurs versus Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals) — it makes sense as to why the Hornets have the sixth worst offensive rating in the league (96.8).

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