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Bobcats @ Clippers Preview: 3-on-3 with ClipperBlog

Who: Los Angeles Clippers vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Home Game

When: 10:30 PM ET

Where: Live at Staples Center

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Los Angeles Clippers 40-18 106.3 (7) 99.8 (6) 94.2 (15)
Charlotte 13-43 98.1 (29) 108.3 (29) 94.4 (14)

Previous Meetings:
2012/12/12 – 100-94 – RecapBoxscore

Los Angeles Clippers:
Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas (Inactive)

Starting Lineups

PG Chris Paul Kemba Walker
SG Chauncey Billups Gerald Henderson
SF Caron Butler Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Blake Griffin Byron Mullens
C DeAndre Jordan Bismack Biyombo
6th Man Caron Butler Ramon Sessions

3-on-3 TrueHoop Network 1- STATS: It goes without saying that the Bobcats have to be at their best defensively tonight. One stat that sticks out is Turnover Ratio — both teams play at practically an identical PACE, but the Clippers rank in the bottom third of the league in Turnover Ratio (14.1). Is the key stat of the game for Charlotte to be very active defensively, turning the Clips over as much as possible and flipping their turnovers into easy baskets?

Spencer: I don’t think it matters who the Bobcats are playing, they have to create easy, transition baskets. Charlotte is a team that always struggles to generate offense in the half court because of their inability to throw the ball inside to any kind of threat.  Cats’ have to focus on pushing the rock and getting as many high quality looks at the basket as they can, while also making it tough for the Clippers to do the same against them. This means running the floor on both ends has to be a priority for Charlotte — look to advance ball quickly off the defensive glass and all 5 guys selling out to sprint back defensively.

Fred Katz (ClipperBlog): Nope. Quite the opposite. Though the numbers say the Clips and ‘Cats play at about the same pace, the way they each get to that number is different. The Clippers tend to play on extreme ends of the spectrum, either putting up shots within seven or eight seconds of a possession or using the whole shot clock. The Bobcats can try to run with them, but remember that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combine for the most athletic big-man tandem in the league. Plus, is the best way for Charlotte to win really by maximizing possessions?

Greg: That would be great, though they’ll need to significantly step up their game. Forcing giveaways hasn’t been a big strength for the team this year, as they’re sitting at 25th in defensive TOV%. Meanwhile, the Clippers have been the best in the NBA by the same metric. If Charlotte is going to gamble and play fast, they’ll also need to do a good job of protecting the ball.

2- ERIC BLEDSOE: Will he be in a Clippers uniform next season?

Spencer: Seems that way. Obviously, the Clippers have their PG of the future in Chris Paul and they’re going to continue to showcase Bledsoe to the rest of the league as Paul’ backup off the bench. Clippers definitely won’t be able to afford Bledsoe when his contract expires in two summers, but it’ll be interesting to see what they can get back for a guy who’s been a backup his entire NBA career.

Fred: Yes. The Clippers’ best chances might be to start the season with Bledsoe and then attempt to make a trade midseason next year. He will be a restricted free agent in the 2014 offseason and might command anywhere from $8 million to $10 million on the market, a price that is well too steep for a backup point guard who the Clips don’t seem to want to put at shooting guard.

Greg: I don’t think so. Chris Paul will be making max money, and it’s looking like keeping Bledsoe would be pretty expensive, too. That’s a lot to invest in one position, and teams are becoming increasingly leery of going too far into the tax. If they can, I’m sure they’d rather have picks or players still on a rookie deal.

3- PICK IT: Everyone going with the Clippers?

Spencer: Yes. It will be a decent game through 3 quarters because the Bobcats play well on big stage settings (@ Lakers, @ Heat), but there’s no reason for anyone to believe they’ll pull this one out. 105-95 Clippers.

Fred: Absolutely. The Clips have won five out of six and seem to have regained their mojo with Chris Paul running the team once again. L.A. has been one of the better road teams in the league with Paul. This one shouldn’t be any different.

Greg: Yeah, it’s hard not to. If there is a path to victory, it’ll probably be at the charity stripe. The Clippers are 27th in defensive FT/FGA, and drawing fouls has been Charlotte’s one elite skill this year. Kemba staying hot would help, too — as Zach Lowe pointed out this morning, Walker has averaged 25 points on 52 percent shooting since the All-Star break.