8 things to know for Clippers’ preseason opener vs. Nuggets

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May 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) dribbles against Houston Rockets in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Los Angeles Clippers won 117 to 101. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

2: DeAndre Jordan could start making some passes

He may have only had training camp to really display any improvements, but according to Doc Rivers, DeAndre Jordan looks noticeably better right now. As well as emphasising what good shape he’s in, Doc has mentioned Jordan’s improved passing as a real sign of encouragement (per Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com):

"“DJ’s better, DJ’s in great shape, he’s playing terrific. I guess DJ’s passing has surprised me this year. He’s really making great passes from the post, and we haven’t seen that.”"

When it comes to Jordan’s offense, his lack of a post-up game and free throw shooting are the areas that need obvious work. However, if he can develop his passing to the point where he can distribute to the Clippers’ plethora of shooters on the perimeter or drop the ball off accurately to a cutting Stephenson, Smith or Blake Griffin, he can be far more beneficial with the ball in his hands.

That is, when he isn’t just catching the ball on a ferocious alley-oop.

1: The Clippers are going small-ball

As has already been mentioned in this slideshow, Pierce will be played at power forward and Smith will be used at center. In doses, it could be a major factor in adding even more diversity to the Clippers’ offense and increasing the already fast and furious nature of the team.

So, as their preseason opener draws closer, you can look forward to seeing them debut their possible small-ball lineups.

Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com has already reported that Doc intends on using a small-ball approach as soon as he gets an opportunity to do so:

"Doc Rivers said not to expect much half-court offense the first exhibition game. With so many new additions, he wants them to play freely and with pace."

With Stephenson looking questionable to play against the Nuggets, the Clippers are without their new sixth man who has the ability to pass like a point guard and the toughness and athleticism to play at the two and three as well. Even if he’s sidelined, though, Doc can still try a small-ball lineup at times.

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A possible lineup of Paul, Crawford, Johnson, Pierce and Smith will most likely be used at some point against the Nuggets, to at least see how that group can work together with some initial practice under their belts. Even if it’s for less than 10 minutes, the Clippers have the ability to use a complete small-ball lineup in ways that they weren’t able to at all last year.

There’s so much more athleticism, shooting and versatility at the team’s disposal, and the preseason is the perfect time for Doc to experiment with his new weapons.

So, considering the chemistry and offensive flow the Clippers have already been developing in just a few training camp sessions, you can get beyond excited to see them put some new ideas into practice against the Nuggets.

This could be the start of a special season.

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