USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Wizards host the Los Angeles Clippers on February 4, 2013. Can Washington take advantage of Chris Paul's absence and pull off an upset?
The Washington Wizards, losers of their last five games, return from a three-game road trip to face the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers will be playing in the second game of a back to back, won't have Chris Paul and are coming off of a last-second loss to the Boston Celtics, so they should be more vulnerable than normal. That said, even without Paul, Los Angeles is a great team. The Wizards have their work cut out for them.
Where and When? Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.
Are They Any Good? Yes, although they've seen better days. The Clippers come into tonight's game with a 34-15 record, yet they've lost six of their last 10 games. This has been due largely to the absence of Paul who hasn't played since January 21 with a knee injury.
Who's Out? Los Angeles is expected to be without Paul, Trey Thompkins and Chauncey Billups, while Washington will be missing Cartier Martin. Trevor Booker and Bradley Beal are both doubtful for tonight's game.
Why Should I Care? They don't call it Lob City for nothing.
What Are They Good At? With the NBA's fourth-best offense and fifth-best defense, there's quite a bit the Clippers do well. With Paul out, though, the team takes a hit on both ends of the court. That said, even with the less-skilled Eric Bledsoe running the show, Los Angeles is still a very dangerous pick-and-roll team that can overwhelm opponents with its athletic frontcourt.
What Are They Bad At? Stopping one-on-one scorers. Los Angeles is a very well-rounded team that just doesn't have that many weaknesses. The most obvious, though, is a lack of a great wing defender. The Clippers currently rank only 22nd in the NBA in points allowed per possession against isolations, according to MySynergySports.com, something that speaks to the team's lack of youth and athleticism on the wing. The team's aging small forwards -- Matt Barnes and Caron Butler are 32 and Grant Hill is 40 -- simply lack the footspeed and hops to stay with the Durants and Lebrons of the NBA, and this weakness could be LA's undoing in the playoffs.
How Has Caron Butler Been? Tuff Juice has won a lot of games in Los Angeles, but the stat-stuffing slasher Wizards fans grew to know and love is largely gone, replaced with a spot-up shooter who rarely creates shots for other players. This is largely due to how he's been used, as Los Angeles prefers to keep the ball in the hands of Paul, Griffin, Jamal Crawford or Bledsoe.
For His Career, Is Matt Barnes the Most Underpaid Player in Recent NBA History? Barnes is far from a household name, yet the veteran small forward has played a key role almost everywhere he's gone. He's a good defensive player who hustles, can hit a three, rebounds well, can pass and is strong enough to play the four in some smaller lineups. Basically, Barnes is James Posey minus the rings, yet he's earned about three million dollars less in his career than Posey earned over the final two years of his last contract.
Where Can I Learn More About the Clippers? Check out Clips Nation.
What are your predictions for tonight's game? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll!
Who's going to win tonight?
Wizards (25 votes)
Clippers (27 votes)
52 total votes