By Jonathan Ryan Davis
1) Lob City? Really?: In case people have missed it, the Los Angeles Clippers have played six NBA games this season. That’s 83 less than the OKC Thunder and LA Lakers. So, how is it the media has already latched onto a nickname at this early a junction in the season? If I am not mistaken, I am pretty sure Marcus Camby has more lobs to Aldridge than Chris Paul has to Mr. I jumped over the bumper of a Kia. Just saying. Let’s see how this season plays out before anointing the Clippers as Lob City. I know they need their own identity after sharing the same arena with a team who has had a bit more success than them. But, come on. Lob City? We’ll see at the end of the year.
2) Payback: The Blazers have the opportunity tonight to prove to themselves, the Clippers, and the league that they are a superior team. Anyone who watched the previous tilt knows that the Clippers did not win the game; rather, Portland lost it. How else can you explain 38 minutes of atrocious play and still having a chance to win it in the final minute? If Portland can get out of their first half slumber, this should be a dominant performance. Portland needs to bully the clippers and take Blake Griffin out of the game. They need to control the boards and clog the paint on defense; make them try to beat us from beyond the arc. When Portland accomplishes these tasks, they will get their payback. Let’s hope this payback is with a little interest.
3) The Real All-Star versus the Faux All-Star: Tonight LaMarcus Aldridge has the opportunity to illustrate once again why he is a better player than Blake Griffin. Don’t misconstrue that statement; Griffin is a phenomenal athlete and basketball player. However, at this juncture in his career, he is nowhere near the complete player Aldridge is. Aldridge can play inside with a plethora of post moves or drag his defender outside to hit a soft floater in his face. He can man up on defense, denying the passing lanes while furiously swatting away weak attempts at the hoop. He is also a much improved rebounder. Griffin is tough inside and improving outside. He is a better rebounder than Aldridge, but he cannot take control of a game on both sides of the court in the same way Aldridge can. I’m sure facing Griffin (who took his spot in Dallas last year) will be a little extra motivation for our beloved Texan.
4) Well Rested versus Partially Fatigued: This should be an unfair matchup of sorts. Coming into the game, the Clippers have played the least number of games in the NBA and had multiple days to rest before tonight’s game. Portland has played two more games and only received one night of rest before having to play a back-to-back. Therefore, the Clippers are WELL rested. However, the disadvantage to only playing six games thus far is that the Clippers still don’t know their identity. They don’t know how to most effectively play together. They are, basically, still finishing their pre-season. On the other hand, Portland has worked out many of its kinks. Tonight should illustrate that Portland is a better prepared, more cohesive unit.