INSIDER: PRESEASON PREVIEW

For the next three weeks, the Clippers may resemble a band of Lemuel Gullivers, the fictional world traveler whose fantastical journeys took him to lands afar.

Beginning Saturday, Oct. 6, the team plays five preseason games in five cities: Las Vegas, Beijing, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. The trek spans more than 15,000 sky miles, and while they may not wind up in Lilliput or Luggnagg, the travel is not the customary preseason schedule. 

“As long as the planes and buses work, I think we’ll be fine,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro quipped. “It’s just part of the deal. Vegas is a short trip, China is not a short trip. We’ll just manage it and try to get as much work in on a daily basis as we can.

“It’s a lot of travel it’s just the way it is. We can’t use it as an excuse. We have to go there [China] with the right mindset, the right attitude and enjoy ourselves when we can and take advantage of the experience and know also this is not a vacation, it’s a time to do work.”

Below is a brief preview of the Clippers’ exhibition season complete with flight mileage:

 

DATE OPPONENT ANALYSIS

10/6

10/25

DENVER NUGGETS

Travel: Los Angeles to Las Vegas 482 miles/approximately 1:30 round trip; Los Angeles to Denver 1,686 miles round trip/approximately 4:30 round trip.

The opening game of the slate is at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and will present the first opportunity for a few questions to be answered. Who will start at shooting guard? What will the rotation look like? How much will veterans Grant Hill and Lamar Odom play?

Del Negro said the matchup with the Nuggets will be the first step in integrating a group that includes seven new faces, plus five players invited to camp on non-guaranteed deals. The Clippers will also get a look at the new-look Nuggets, who figure to be among the chief competition for a top seed in the Western Conference playoff race. 

The Clippers play Denver in their final preseason game as well, traveling to the Mile High City on October 25. It will be a homecoming for Chauncey Billups, although the guard will likely remain out of the lineup. 

DATE OPPONENT ANALYSIS

10/11
10/14

MIAMI HEAT

Travel: 6,265 miles from Los Angeles to Beijing; 677 from Beijing to Shanghai; 6,508 from Shanghai to Los Angeles/approximately 27 hours total.

The two games in China against the defending champion Heat will be a test of endurance. The lengthy flight combined with jet lag, a number of media commitments in Beijing and Shanghai, and the task of facing the Heat twice will get Del Negro an idea of his team’s resilience, despite the fact that it’s merely an exhibition game.

One of the first concerns could be dealing with the long flight over the Pacific.

“There’s no easy answer for that stuff [jet lag],” Del Negro said. “You just do the best you can and everybody probably handles it a little bit different.”

Fortunately for the Clippers, several players, including Caron Butler, Chris Paul and Ronny Turiaf have traveled to China before. Butler, who will be going to China for the eighth time, said he feels comfortable knowing his way around both Shanghai and Beijing.

"I kind of know my way around now," Butler added. "So it will be interesting."

DATE OPPONENT ANALYSIS

10/17

10/20

UTAH JAZZ

Travel: 1,182 miles from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City/approximately 3:30 hours round trip.

The first game at Staples Center is three days after the Clippers return from Shanghai. It will also mark the return of Mo Williams and Rany Foye to Los Angeles. Williams was dealt to Utah as part of the Lamar Odom trade, while Foye signed a one-year deal as unrestriced free agent this offseason. 

The game could mark a return to normalcy as well. Three of the final five preseason contests are in L.A. with games versus Utah, the Lakers and Golden State. Sandwiched in between will be the Oct. 20 trip to Salt Lake City, where the Clippers won for the first time in 17 tries last year. While the Jazz crowd will not be as raucous as they are in the regular season, the Oct. 20 game could still give the veteran-laden Clipper lineup their first taste of the year in an NBA road arena. 

DATE OPPONENT ANALYSIS

10/22

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Travel: Home

Two days after coming back from Salt Lake City, the Clippers take on the revamped Warriors. With Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry returning to health, Golden State is formidable and somewhat unknown. Considering the Clippers will take on their Pacific Division foes four times in the regular season, the game could provide a little insight into how the teams match up. 

DATE OPPONENT ANALYSIS

10/24

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Travel: Home

Call this the warmup for their Nov. 2 regular season date. Last year in two preseason games, the Clippers-Lakers matchups were as highly anticipated as any exhibition games in league history. With both teams revamped and expected to be among the West's elite, this year will be no different. Dwight Howard (back) and Chris Paul (thumb) could both be out of their respective lineups, but it's late enough in the preseason schedule to at least wonder. There will be an endless amount of hyperbole about this game later.