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Los Angeles Clippers Stat Monkey Brief: Clippers/Spurs (11/19/12)

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Will the Clippers' league-high shooting percentage stand up to the Spurs' experienced D? Yulian Fedulov takes a look.

Your Lob City Play of the Day

This is probably 25% of the reason most of us watch basketball, and it is definitely 50% of the reason I stay up to watch the Clippers games on the East Coast.

Last Game Recap

The Clippers got off to fast start and never looked back. The Bulls could not make a shot all night and were held to 33.7% shooting (their second worst of the season) and 14.3% from 3-point range (worst of the season). You can’t win games if you can’t make shots; yes, I channeled my inner-John Madden with that one.

Tonight’s Game

Tonight’s game kicks off a four game road trip, which features two heavyweight bouts with San Antonio and Oklahoma City. The Clippers have already recorded some impressive wins this year against the Grizzlies, Heat, and star-studded Lakers, and tonight’s game is going to be another tough test.

With an average age of 29 years-old, the Spurs have the fifth-most experienced roster in the league and have been playing great fundamental basketball since before I could dribble. One could even argue that the Spurs slow and steady approach is the complete opposite of the high flying Clippers. The Spurs are efficient on both end of the floor and rank 13th in defensive efficiency and sixth in offensive efficiency and will continue to play with the same effectiveness. They have, after all, become the gold standard for consistency for almost every sport.

The Clippers, however, are playing at a high level and have the third-most efficient offense and second-most efficient defense. Further, this game should be a nice early measure of how far the team has come since they got swept by the Spurs last spring. My one concern is that the Clippers are shooting a league-high 49.5% percent from the field, which is 5% higher than the current league average and the highest since '08-09 season when the Suns shot a mind-boggling 50.4%. The Clippers have improved a league-leading 4% from the field (Miami and the Nets are tied for second with a 2.5% improvement) from last season*. In short, the question to keep in mind is: have the Clippers really improved by that much or will they regress to the mean just a little?

In my opinion if the Clippers do regress, it will not be this game, because they are going to be eager to prove that they are contenders this year and to showcase how far they have come since last spring. With that said, the Spurs play great team defense and will slow down the Clippers offense just a tad.

*Just in case you are curious who digressed the most, the Sixers and Wizards have both seen a 4% drop so far this season.

Prediction

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