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Grammys Road Trip Predictions.
nuraman00 » 01/20/17 » 7:48pm
01/23/17 » 8:34am
Clippers offer 2nd for PJ Tucker
Dyce » 01/22/17 » 1:17am
01/23/17 » 7:27am
#45 - LA Clippers @ Denver Nuggets
JGlanton » 01/21/17 » 12:31pm
01/23/17 » 3:41am
3-2 zone defense
bighugeballer52 » 01/20/17 » 5:28pm
01/21/17 » 11:29am
CP3 to miss 6-8 weeks
JGlanton » 01/17/17 » 4:18pm (Page: 1, 2)
01/20/17 » 9:01pm
All signs point to Blake Griffin returning from right knee surgery to play for the Clippers on Tuesday night at Philadelphia.
Coach Doc Rivers had some fun with the media when he was asked if Griffin would play Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks.
“No,” Rivers responded.
Rivers was then asked...
Blake’s (almost) back!
Doc Rivers says Blake Griffin not playing tonight. BG supposed to play at Philly tomorrow— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) January 23, 2017
Blake was officially listed as “doubtful” instead of “out” for tonight’s game in Atlanta, but it always seemed unlikely that he’d play in tonight’s game. Even if he had returned last week against the Timberwolves or Nuggets, I don’t think the Clippers would have played him in both games of this back-to-back. It makes sense to give him one extra day to recover and bring him back tomorrow against the Sixers.
Even if tonight’s game is as brutal as Saturday’s was, at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: tomorrow, Blake Griffin returns.
A in-depth look into The Curse of the LA Clippers and the author who chronicled the entire journey
Patrick Zajac hosts a special episode of TLTJTP, sitting down with Mick Minas, author of The Curse: The Colorful & Chaotic History of the LA Clippers to discuss his book and the incredibly unconvential history of our beloved Clippers.
Patrick and Mick discuss everything from Bill Walton, Danny Manning, and the rotten injury luck that has plagued the franchise over the course of their history. Plus, Mick gives his take on the current era of Clippers basketball and whether he thinks it can end with a trip to the promised land. A unique episode and a must read book for every Clippers fan!
The answer is yes, but the paths towards adding a player are tricky.
Chris Paul has been out of the Clippers lineup for a week. He’s scheduled to miss 5-7 more as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Obviously, this is a brutal blow to a Clippers team that relies on Paul heavily on both ends of the floor, but most importantly to run the offense and create shots for himself and others. Two of the Clippers’ most effective offensive players—J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan—struggle to create offense for themselves, and rely heavily upon Chris Paul to find them for open looks.
Fortunately for the Clippers, they have a solid veteran backup point guard in Raymond Felton. Felton had a strong year in Dallas last season in a big role before accepting a dip in minutes this season that has coincided with improved efficiency (41/28 splits to 44/35). Even with Raymond’s help, the Clippers’ offense takes an unavoidable step back. Nobody can replace Chris Paul, and Felton’s play as a starter has been unremarkable, with averages of 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 38% from the field and 22% from deep. It probably shouldn’t be surprising—like I said, Felton’s a solid veteran backup guard, but he’s not a starting-caliber point guard at this point in his career. Partially, this is just a matter of dealing with reality: few teams have two starting caliber point guards, and the Clippers invested their resources elsewhere. For the veteran’s minimum, Felton has been one of the most effective signings in the league.
Another problem emerges, however, when Felton goes to the bench. The Clippers’ last option at point guard is Austin Rivers, a young combo guard who is having a career year. Rivers was scouted as a point guard and drafted in the lottery before struggling early in his career. The verdict is likely in on Austin—he’s not a very good NBA point guard. But he is a good NBA player—he drives to the rim a lot and finishes at a decent rate, his three-point shooting has improved, and his energy and athleticism defensively mostly make up for occasional lapses in awareness. He just doesn’t have the skills that he needs to be an effective point guard: namely, running an offense and distributing the basketball. His AST% this season is actually his highest in three years with the Clippers, and both other years he played significant minutes at point guard.
Still, Austin is serviceable at point guard, even if there are rough patches. The real issue here is a problem of opportunity cost: right now, Austin Rivers’ is the Clippers’ best wing scorer. J.J. Redick is still making an impact, but you can’t quite throw him the ball and tell him to get a bucket on any given possession. Jamal Crawford is in the deepest slump of his five years in Los Angeles. Who else is there? Alan Anderson? Luc Mbah a Moute? Paul Pierce? Wesley Johnson?
Every minute that Austin Rivers has to play at point guard is a minute that the Clippers are forced to mitigate the effectiveness of their best wing scorer by playing him out of position. For example, if Felton and Rivers were to each play 36 minutes, that would leave them with just 24 minutes together, and 12 minutes each of Felton running a Rivers-less offense, and Rivers running the offense. You’d like to have your best wing scorer playing as wing scorer for the entire game, and that can’t be accomplished without another point guard.
The obvious answer to this solution is the imminent return of Blake Griffin. After missing almost five weeks following a minor knee surgery, Griffin is set to return this week, and he’ll immediately become the Clippers #1 option on offense, with most plays running through him as a scorer or distributor. Griffin is one of the best passing big men in the league, and whenever Chris Paul is out, we see it on full display. Here’s the problem: Austin Rivers still needs to bring the ball up, run a play, control the tempo, and find Blake in his spots so that Blake can create offense. That’s not a situation where Austin thrives—that’s exactly where you want Raymond Felton, a solid veteran point guard who can manage the game but struggles when tasked with a large offensive burden.
I think that determining that the Clippers could use some short-term help at point guard is pretty straight-forward. Chris Paul could miss over 20 more games—wouldn’t it be nice to have upgraded point guard play for the next quarter of the season? Adding that help, though, is a little trickier.
The Clippers currently have 15 guaranteed contracts on their roster, which means that they can’t just sign a new player—if they could, they probably already would have. So the only options are to either make a trade, cut a player, or both.
I’ve floated a few trade ideas on my Locked on Clippers podcast in the last week: Jamal Crawford for Rajon Rondo, or smaller packages for Jose Calderon or C.J. Watson. None of these options are especially enticing: Rondo’s issues are well-documented, Calderon’s salary is in an awkward range, and Watson’s struggled in Orlando. The larger, looming issue with trading for one of these guys is that the writing would be on the wall regarding their long-term status with the team: 20 games in the rotation, and then likely relegated to third-string when Chris Paul returns. How is Rajon Rondo going to handle that, and do you want to pay him $14 million dollars to be a backup for 20 games? Do you want to trade Wesley Johnson, an option at your weakest forward positions, for an aging player who will be at best the team’s 6th guard come playoffs?
The easiest solution probably comes via free agency. It would be somewhat painful to part ways with one of the Clippers’ current players—Doc obviously has an emotional attachment with Paul Pierce, we’re all still waiting to see Alan Anderson break through and contribute, Brandon Bass has been enticing in limited minutes. Cutting a rookie—Brice Johnson or Diamond Stone—seems foolish when there are 13 veterans on the roster.
The most obvious choice is Paul Pierce, who has finally managed to convince Doc Rivers that he isn’t worthy of playing time—even short-handed, even rolling with 9-man rotations, Pierce hasn’t gotten a call in 11 of the Clippers’ last 12 games, following an unimpressive four-game stretch as a fill-in starter for Blake Griffin. There are, however, obvious sentimental factors at play with Pierce, who was the NBA Finals MVP on Doc Rivers’ championship team in Boston. With that come a host of intangible things that Pierce brings—experience, leadership, etc. But he also contributes in one tangible way—his above-minimum contract could prove useful in potential trades.
The next choice would be Alan Anderson, who has clearly contributed the second-least of the Clippers’ 13 veterans. Anderson has drawn inconsistent spot minutes, and like Pierce, Doc has occasionally opted for 9-man rotations as a healthy Anderson rides the bench. It’s hard to judge such a minuscule sample size, but he definitely hasn’t impressed in his few minutes, missing most of his shots and often resorting to fouling defensively when he can’t contain his man. If the Clippers have to cut a player, my bet would be Anderson. Look at it this way: Anderson has played 11 minutes a game in 17 appearances in the Clippers’ 45 games. If they cut him and signed a replacement-level point guard today (Shane Larkin? Ray McCallum? Ronnie Price? Tony Wroten? There’s a long list of mediocre options), that point guard would see more floor time in the next 20 games than Anderson has in the past 40.
One intriguing option, though, would be to simply clear a roster spot via a trade that doesn’t affect the point guard position. The Clippers are interested in the Suns’ P.J. Tucker and reportedly offered a second-round pick for him. That trade would either be structured for Wesley Johnson’s salary to go to Phoenix, or, more likely, for Paul Pierce and a minimum salary (Anderson) to be heading back to the Suns. Phoenix isn’t interested in Johnson—they want the pick (though they want the Clippers to offer a first rounder instead). So why would they take on Johnson’s multi-year contract when they can simply buy out a retiring Pierce and let Anderson expire in July? That trade, along with any potential Carmelo Anthony trade, would leave the Clippers with open roster spots, and a guard would be at the top of the shopping list.
Any such trade would have to happen soon, though—by my estimate, Chris Paul’s recovery timeline will sideline him for a maximum of 23 more games (that would be the 8-week mark on his 6-8 week window), and the Clippers have 11 of those games before the trade deadline. If you’re going to seek help at point guard, you’d like to acquire it for more than half of the window where you have that need.
LAC will try to end a two-game mini skid without CP3 and (probably) Blake Griffin.The Big Picture
The Clippers got the five-game road trip off to a rough start by getting run off the floor on Saturday night in Denver. The Clips were able to pick up a couple of impressive wins without both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul fairly recently, but it’s no secret that this is not even close to a playoff caliber team without those guys. There is no shame in that, obviously. Missing two All-NBA caliber players is a big deal for any team.
Blake Griffin was originally listed as “out” for tonight’s game before a quick adjustment upgraded him to “doubtful.” He is expected to make his return some time during this road trip, but it would be a surprise if that return came this evening in Atlanta.
The Jazz have pulled into a tie with the Clips for the No. 4 seed in the West, and Utah is a team that has been no stranger to injury concerns this season. Even with Blake’s return imminent, L.A. is going to have a tough time fending Utah off for a top-four seed without CP3 for several more weeks.
Catching Houston for the hugely important No. 3 spot isn’t impossible, but the main focus for LAC right now should be trying to get home court in round one. Meeting Golden State in the second round is far from ideal, of course, and it’s a shame such a promising Clippers season has come to this.
Still, as we saw just last summer, all bets are off once the playoffs rolls around. If the Clippers can make it to April with their key cogs all healthy at once they will be an incredibly tough out. Let’s just hope for health.The Enemy
As for tonight, the shorthanded Clippers will make their second stop of the road trip in Atlanta to take on the Hawks. Since making the curious decision to essentially hand sharpshooter Kyle Korver to the best team in their own conference for very little, the Hawks have been the hottest team in the East.
Atlanta has won 10 of its last 12 games overall to climb into first place in the Southeast Division and fourth in the conference behind Cleveland, Toronto and Boston. The Hawks’ entire season has been one of runs to this point. They got off to a blistering 9-2 start before hitting the skids in a big way. They’d go on to lose 10 of their next 11 outings and briefly dropped under .500 before their current run put them back on track.
There were several rumors indicating that Paul Millsap was going to be on his way out of town next, but the Hawks’ recent good run of form apparently convinced them to try and ride it out with him. He is slated to hit the free agent market this summer, so Atlanta will apparently attempt to make a run this season in order to try and convince him to re-sign in July.
The Hawks underwent a few changes during the offseason. Out went both Jeff Teague and Al Horford and in came Dwight Howard. Dennis Schroder was promoted to be the Hawks’ starting point guard, and he has upped his level of play since a mediocre start to the year.
They have primarily done it with defense. ATL ranks fourth in the league in defensive rating coming into this game, and replacing Horford with Howard has given them a major boost in the rim protection and rebounding departments. They still aren’t an elite glass-eating team by any means, but they have improved from 28th in rebound rate last season to 15th in 2016-17.The Key Matchup Dwight Howard vs. DeAndre Jordan
These two are certainly no strangers to one another. Following a few intense clashes while Howard was with the Rockets, Jordan will now try and deal with Dwight (and Dwight’s farts) in a Hawks uniform.
Despite Jordan’s defensive abilities, it’s a matchup Howard has enjoyed throughout his career. In 18 career regular season head-to-head meetings, Dwight has averaged 20.9 points and better than 13 rebounds per game.
The Clippers need to find every edge they possibly can without CP3 and Griffin, and winning the rebounding battle could prove crucial. L.A. was outrebounded by both Minnesota and Denver in each of their last two games. In the recent wins over the Suns and Grizzlies they were able to notch without either Paul or Griffin, the Clips had an edge on the glass.
Jordan will obviously have to spearhead the effort and keep Howard at bay, particularly on the offensive boards. The Hawks have been opportunistic in that area all year long, and rank sixth in the league in second chance points per game (14.0). Howard is third among individual players at 4.5 second chance points per game. DeAndre, meanwhile, ranks eighth (3.4), while the Clips as a team are just 24th.
Doc Rivers decided to bring Raymond Felton off the bench in favor of Marreese Speights in the last game against Denver in an apparent attempt to beef up the front line. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Mo Buckets were in the starting five again tonight to try and combat the Howard-Millsap front line.The Fancy Table Game Day Song of Choice
Atlanta is known for its rap scene, so that’s where we’ll go with today’s GDSoC. ATL native Killer Mike started to gain mainstream success for his work with OutKast before joining up with El-P to form Run The Jewels in 2013.
Here’s a new and good song from Run The Jewels:
The Hawks and Clips will get it going from Philips Arena at 4:30pm PT.
What am I gonna podcast about on three straight off days?
In today’s episode of Locked on Clippers, I brushed on a few different topics: the Clippers’ weird schedule this week, DeAndre Jordan’s childish actions in Denver, Blake Griffin’s possible return, and tonight’s match-up with the Atlanta Hawks.
Thanks for listening and don’t forget to subscribe!
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DALLAS >> Through sluggish play, the Lakers often could rely on one man to take over a game and take over the locker room.
But Kobe Bryant isn't walking through that door ever again. To a lesser extent, Lakers second-year guard D'Angelo Russell isn't either for the next one or two weeks while nursing a right knee injury.
DALLAS >> None of the possible reasons seemed plausible.
The Lakers' two-hour flight delay to arrive here the night before due to weather concerns could not have fully explained the team's sluggishness. D'Angelo Russell's absence from a right knee injury could not fully account for the team's stagnant offense.
DENVER >> You've seen it in how Jamal Crawford moves.
The way the ball bounced from his hand between his legs, the way he's shifted from left to right, the fluidity in how he's flipped from standing to shooting, it's all a blink slower than usual.
It's not anything physical. The problem, Crawford said, is mental.
They were indecisive a couple of times on offense Saturday night against Denver, leaving Jamal Crawford with the difficult task of having to bail out the Clippers during a time when his own offense has veered off course.
Crawford has been one of the NBA’s best shot-makers over his 17-year career,...