Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Clippers Big Bounce Back and How the Players Are Trending

After suffering their worst loss in franchise history to the Mavericks, the Clippers bounced back and blew out the Timberwolves 124-101. The Clippers, who lacked Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris Sr. in each game, took a horrendous loss on Sunday but came out energized to play against Minnesota as they displayed a great example of team basketball with 7 players scoring in double digits in part from 32 assists.

Following the dreadful performance from the Clippers against Dallas, Clippers Center Ivica Zubac noted that the team simply just let the Mavericks "do their plays like a walkthrough." Well, this game against Minnesota was clearly anything but a walkthrough as the Zubac and the Clippers highlighted the physicality and aggressiveness that they possess. After starting off on another rough note tonight, Lou Williams, Ivica Zubac, and the rest of the second unit made their presence immediately felt as Zubac delivered 6 points and 3 blocks in his first 11 minutes in and Williams had 9 quick first quarter points. One thing that the Clippers had trouble with last year was their second unit and how they performed when Kawhi Leonard and/or Paul George checked out of the game. Tonight, those guys brought energy and gave the Clippers a 4 point lead at the end of the first quarter and the team didn't look back as that lead was propelled to 20 by the half after at one point going on a 29-7 run.

With Leonard sitting yet again, Luke Kennard started in his place and scored 15 points. When the Clippers become confident, they are a very tough team to beat. Their confidence translates to their role players in Lou Williams to take more shots, Luke Kennard and Patrick Beverley to shoot more threes, Terance Mann to shoot confidently and become decisive while playing smarter, Ivica Zubac to become more aggressive in the paint, and Nic Batum in possessing that high basketball IQ. 

While Paul George maybe didn't increase his scoring by that much tonight after scoring 15 against Dallas, he didn't need to as the rest of the team stepped up. After the seemingly inexcusable blowout loss to Dallas, Paul George took "full responsibility" as a result of the game and noted after last night's game that "no team is in their perfect form or close to it right now." That is a strong point as it is early in the season and many teams are still figuring themselves out. The Clippers haven't even had Marcus Morris Sr. play a game yet and Kawhi Leonard still has to return from his injury.

Although we've had a small sample size so far to judge how this season could go for the team, we do have some indication on how it could go for certain players. Terance Mann is a player that is trending upwards as he's shown great production off the bench in a playmaker that the Clippers need and his passing can provide that. If Mann can continue to play smart on the court and showcase his solid defensive play, then Tyronn Lue would likely use him a lot in backing up Patrick Beverley. Another player that is trending upwards is Nic Batum. In filling in for Marcus Morris Sr., Batum has shown us some great performances that have also come as surprising to many as it was thought that the Clippers would just go big and run Ibaka and Zubac in the starting lineup with Morris out. While Batum's starting job may not be secure, he can provide some very meaningful minutes off the bench, when Morris returns, in a SF or PF spot that the Clippers have needed someone to step up in. He can do that with his high basketball IQ, ability to teach younger players, and his understanding of knowing his role. Ivica Zubac also looks to be trending positively as had a very aggressive performance last night where he tallied 3 blocks and 12 points and has embraced his new role off of the bench. Lastly, another upward-trending player is Reggie Jackson. In what was arguably his best game in a Clipper uniform, Jackson displayed defensive intensity that we haven't seen from him before. Although he may not play solid on-ball defense (or off-ball for that matter), he does display quickness that can be used to jump into passing lanes and collect steals as he gathered 4 steals last night. While Clippers Coach Tyronn Lue has shown he would bench Jackson among bad performances, Jackson can earn his minutes by bringing that defensive presence and play smarter offensively.

When having such a big loss like the Clippers did on Sunday where just about the whole team played poorly and a big win last night where about the whole team played great, it could be hard to point out certain negatives but there are some that are notable. While Luke Kennard did have a great performance yesterday, he could be on the downward trend as he plays well with his shooting mostly and he'll really have to make the most of his shots going forwards when Leonard and Morris return. His defense isn't too great and the main defensive difference between him and Reggie Jackson is that Jackson is quick and able to step in the passing lanes and recover at times when beaten while Kennard lacks speed. Another downwards headed player is Mfiondu Kabengele. While he doesn't get much playing time to start, he needs to make the most of his minutes as he usually only gets in when the bigs are in foul trouble or in blowout games. Kabengele is a player who the Clippers seemed to be very high on as they traded up in the 2019 draft to select him and have excluded him in multiple trades they've made but it was surprising when it was announced before the game yesterday that the Clippers didn't pick up their third-year option with him. That means that they'll see how he performs this season and then decide if they want to bring him back or not. Last night in the 8 minutes he played, there was a noticeable sense of urgency and panic that he played with and he simply just has to play relaxed like he had in previous games. Lastly, Patrick Patterson is also on the downwards spiral. After playing poorly in the Clippers first game and mediocre in the next few, Patterson was a DNP-CD last night. With other players like Zubac and Batum stepping up and Morris yet to make his return, it's hard to see Patterson getting a set role in the first few units.

While it is early in the season, the Clippers are on their revenge tour from their heartbreaking playoff outcome last season. With role players stepping up and the team playing with energy, aggressiveness, and confidence, this team is very difficult to overcome.

The Clippers next play the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at 7 PM PT.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Analyzing the Clippers' Signing of Serge Ibaka

After uncertainty in the NBA world regarding which team notable free agent Serge Ibaka would sign with, the Clippers ended up securing him on a two year deal (with the 2nd year being a player option) worth $19 million. This is a great pickup for the Clippers as they headed into the offseason looking for a good big man and ended up getting the best realistic option in free agency that they could've got.

Ibaka is a player that can do it all on both sides of the court. Last season with Toronto, he averaged a career high 15.4 PPG along with 8.2 RPG and shot almost 39% from three. While his shot blocking has declined a bit over the years, he is still known as a good defender. The 7 footer (yes, he's 7 feet tall and can shoot) gives the Clippers that height that they desperately needed last year when the playoffs came around. With the loss of both Montrezl Harrell (Lakers) and JaMychal Green (Nuggets), Ibaka will likely fill role of Harrell at the backup Center spot. As far as replacing Green, the Clippers re-signed Marcus Morris who will likely play even more at PF to fill in for Green or could even sign his brother Markieff or acquire another big man to replace Green which was a big loss for the Clippers.

Ibaka was also rumored to go to the Brooklyn Nets and was offered a 1 year, $12 million deal to return to Toronto but turned that down. It would make sense if it were said that Kawhi Leonard had an influence on Ibaka to come to the Clippers as they had won a championship on the Raptors in 2019. Also, Ibaka looks to be a better option than Harrell for the Clippers. In the playoffs just months ago, the Clippers lacked size and had defensive troubles when Ivica Zubac came off of the court and Harrell was the main reason for that being an undersized center. Ibaka gives the Clippers that upgrade at backup center as he is just as tall as Zubac, can shoot outside, rebound well, and gives the opportunity for the Clippers to insert a big lineup if they ever wanted to play him at PF and Zubac at C or even not have to worry about sizing matchups if Zubac were to get in foul trouble or injured. As we are down to exactly 1 month before the season kicks off, we may see the Clippers make a move or two to complete their team but just know, they filled their main concern at the center position with the acquisition of Serge Ibaka.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Clippers Stay Silent Heading into NBA Draft Day

Exploring the Options that The Clippers Have for the Offseason

With multiple trades being made already in the NBA offseason such as Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns and Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Clippers are yet to make noise since the moratorium period was lifted on Monday. It was said that they would acquire a big named point guard in Paul or Holiday but since they have found new homes, the Clippers have to look elsewhere at the positions they need.

With the Clippers season ending in a disappointing fashion where the Nuggets overcame a 3-1 deficit and beat them, it became clear to the front office that there were a few tweaks to be made. The first ones came with coaching as Doc Rivers and the Clippers parted ways. As Rivers left, Clippers Assistant Coach Sam Cassell went with him to the 76ers and Rex Kalamian went to the Kings which caused the organization to shake up the whole coaching staff. The Clippers promoted Tyronn Lue to Head Coach and hired Dan Craig (a high profiled assistant who had multiple opportunities to become a head coach for this-coming season), Kenny Atkinson (who coached the Nets for the last 4 seasons), Chauncey Billups (an NBA champion who played 16 years in the league and most recently was a color commentator for the Clippers and an ESPN analyst), Larry Drew (who has been an NBA coach for 28 years and played in the league for 10 years), Roy Rogers (an assistant coach for 12 years), and even more hires for the organization.

As the Clippers formed a very good coaching staff, it is expected that they are looking towards acquiring more assets for this-coming season. It was said that Chris Paul was interested in rejoining the Clippers but he ended up being traded to Phoenix and Jrue Holiday was another good option but the Bucks acquired him. Dennis Schröder was another solid point guard option (that many thought wouldn't be dealt) but he was traded to the Lakers for the 28th pick and Danny Green (who was then traded along with Terrance Ferguson for Al Horford, the rights to Vasilije Micic and 2 picks). With those players off the board, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, and Kris Dunn are some names that have been brought up. Acquiring Westbrook is unlikely as the team would have to give up a good amount or Paul George and it seems like PG will stay in LA. Rondo is a different story as he is expected to receive a more lucrative offer from the Hawks than the Clippers can give him, but is reportedly still interested in playing the Clippers. Dunn isn't being issued a qualifying offer from Chicago and is another possibility. This past season, Westbrook averaged 27.2 points points per game, 7.9 rebounds, 7 assists, shot 47% from the field but only 26% from three. Rondo averaged 7.1 points per game, 5 assists, shot 42% from the field and 33% from three while playing 48 games and only starting in 3 of them but did increase those stats during the playoffs a bit. Dunn averaged 7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2 steals per game while shooting 44% from the field and only 26% from three. These players do have some shooting inconsistencies, so there are other options the Clippers should explore.

With the Pelicans shipping away some of their point guards, the Clippers may want to take a look at them. Those point guards are George Hill and Eric Bledsoe who could each be a good fit with the Clippers. Some other players the Clippers could go for are Derrick Rose or Jeff Teague in free agency. Along with a point guard, the Clippers also need a solid big man to back up Ivica Zubac. It is expected that Montrezl Harrell leaves in free agency, and even if the Clippers are able to bring back JaMychal Green and Marcus Morris, they still need another big. The best free agent options for that role would be Serge Ibaka and some other options include Nerlens Noel, Aron Baynes, and Tristian Thompson but it is unclear what the Clippers would really do. In today's draft, the Clippers have the 57th pick of the draft but it has been rumored that they might trade up. One rumor is Lou Williams to the Mavericks for the 18th pick but it seems as if that trade isn't getting far as the Mavericks are talking to other teams for that pick.

While there are many scenarios that have been thrown into NBA offseason conversations for the Clippers, we still aren't sure what they will really do. Since Jerry West joined the organization, the Clippers have been 'silent but deadly' in the offseason meaning nothing in the front office is leaked to the media but there are many notable moves (such as acquiring Kawhi Leonard last season after being "ruled out" and trading for Paul George). While the clock is ticking, we'll just have to wait and see what tricks Michael Winger, Jerry West, and Lawrence Frank have up their sleeves.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Who Should the Clippers Trust to Play Against the Nuggets? - Clippers vs Nuggets Series Preview


The 2nd round is set and the 2nd seeded Los Angeles Clippers are facing off against the 3rd seeded Denver Nuggets. Game 1 tips off in a little over an hour. While many may think the Clippers can cruise past the Nuggets in this series, that may not be the case. While the Nuggets don't have the best offense ever like the Mavericks did last round, they do have a few star players filled by key role players that can step up when needed. The Clippers have to be ready for the Nuggets who can dangerously catch fire easily.

Coming out of a Game 7 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver should be exhausted for Game 1 but they can fuel off their win from last game and carry that energy into this one which can be dangerous. This playoffs so far, Jamal Murray has averaged 31.6 PPG (3rd in the NBA) and Kawhi has averaged 32.8 PPG (2nd in the NBA). They are also making history in that it's the first time that two opposing players are averaging at least 30 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG going into a playoff series. They have each been very efficient and that should continue to happen this series.

In order for the Clippers to win this series, they need to trust their surrounding players such as Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Ivica Zubac, JaMychal Green, and more. This season, Lou Williams has played very well this season against Denver averaging 22 Points in 3 games. He needs to be trusted as Denver is a team that drops Nikola Jokic a ton and Lou can easily blow by him or finish over him or just shoot uncontested jumpers on switches. With Patrick Beverley returning after only playing 1 game last series, he also needs to be on the court a lot because of his energy and defensive abilities (but he may unfortunatley be on a minutes restriction. Last series we saw Doc Rivers put lineups where there was no defense all like his Reggie-Lou-Trezz lineups that obviously didn't work. While Reggie can hit spot-up threes, he can not be trusted as on defense as it is easy to score over him, he isn't as aggressive as Beverley is, and he lacks energy at times and on offense his ball-handling is out of control. Marcus Morris is another player to keep an eye on as he has been shooting very well recently but it will be interesting to see how he responds following his ejection in Game 6 against Dallas.

This could also be a breakout series for JaMychal Green who played a very good Game 6 last series and was great last year against the Warriors. Doc Rivers needs to play JaMychal Green more than Montrezl Harrell and even play him with Zubac at times as it worked very well in Game 6. Green has a very nice shot, nice touching finish in the post, and can play pretty good defense at times whereas Harrell brings the energy but his defense is not good and he won't be will be able to guard Jokic (who plays nearly the whole game). In addition to Green, Ivica Zubac needs to be trusted as we all know he is a very solid rim protector and a great finisher. Another player to watch out for is Landry Shamet as he was very solid in Round 1 as a starter where he has a +/- of +37 in Games 3-7 starting but a -31 while coming off the bench.

Also, the Clippers need to get the ball in Kawhi Leonard's hands about every play that he's in. Leonard is averaging 25 PPG against Denver this year in 3 games and he has to be the star on offense and defense this series but his scoring could be limited as Denver recently assigned Jerami Grant to guard Leonard who is very athletic and lanky. Coach Rivers might also want to have Kawhi guard Jamal Murray to start as this season Kawhi has held Murray to 8 points on 3-11 shooting and 2 turnovers while being the primary defender on Murray in the half-court plays. This could also be a breakout series for PG who still is trying to get all the way back on track and who averaged a team high 25.5 PPG on 51.4% shooting vs Denver this year.

Once again, the Clippers need to set the tone and come out fiery and aggressive against this Nuggets team. If this happens, the Clippers have to continue to be aggressive and not settle for shots like they did in the Mavericks series which allowed the Mavericks to come back multiple times.

Clips in 7.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

How Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers Helped Influence Boycotts Around the Sports World in Support of the Black Lives Matter Movement

After an incredible 154-111 LA Clippers win over the Dallas Mavericks the other night in game 5, Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers delivered a very powerful postgame speech. But, the big news story of the game ended up coming after the game where Coach Rivers addressed his thoughts on the recent police shooting on Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin that left Blake in critical condition and paralyzed from the waist down.
While fighting his emotions, Rivers touched on how Black people are getting killed, shot, hung, and denied to live in certain communities. He also said "it's amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country doesn't love us back" and also says that "you don't need to be black to be outraged." His powerful words rang through the NBA and were put into action yesterday in the form of a boycott.

Also, 2 nights ago, an Illinois teen open fired on protesters in Kenosha. TWO people were killed and ONE is seriously wounded as a result of the disgusting act. This violence sparked even more frustration today. As a result of this, the Jacob Blake shooting, and the 400 YEARS OF RACIAL OPPRESSION THAT BLACK PEOPLE HAVE FACED, the Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to decide they wouldn't be stepping on the court and playing today in Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. As it counts as a forfeit and the Magic would win, the Magic declined the win and did the same boycotting the game. Shortly after, Oklahoma City Thunder Point Guard Chris Paul, who is the President of the National Basketball Players Association, and Houston Rockets Point Guard Russell Westbrook discussed the boycott and decided their teams will boycott and after that, the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers decided they'd boycott their games.

In addition to the NBA games today and yesterday being boycotted and postponed, WNBA players also boycotted their games yesterday and they have also been postponed. In the WNBA, the Washington Mystics players each wore shirts spelling out 'Jacob Blake' and the shirts featured 7 holes on the back of them symbolizing the 7 times that Jacob Blake was shot.

Later, the whole WNBA league joined in unity for their advocation of Black Lives Matter in attempt to spark change and demand justice.


With those 2 leagues boycotting, the MLS and MLB have also boycotted some games and NHL players have boycotted Thursday and Friday games. The boycotts yesterday happened to fall on the 4 year anniversary of the first time that Colin Kaepernick addressed himself kneeling for the national anthem before his game. Many others in the sports world have spoken on the Jacob Blake incident and how police brutality keeps happening in the all over and how they fight and demand justice, change, and equality for the Black Lives Matter movement. Those who have spoken on it include former NBA veteran and current TNT commentator Chris Webber (who was almost brought to tears while addressing it), Jason Heyward (Cubs outfielder), Dee Gordon (Mariners infielder), tennis star Naomi Osaka, Lakers superstar LeBron James, Trail Blazers' Moe Harkless (who revealed his experience with the police), NBA star Donovan Mitchell (who has spoken out multiple times recently), WNBA All Star A'ja Wilson, NBA Champion Robert Horry (who was brought to tears on the subject), Mets first baseman Dominic Smith (who was also very distraught and brought to tears on the matter), and many more. Along with all of those who spoke out, TNT analyst Kenny Smith followed the players' lead and boycotted leaving the set live during the show.
While the Bucks boycotted their game, they also spent significant time on the phone talking to Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Wisconsin Governor on the recent violent acts and urging police reform. Some players also have horrifying personal encounters with the police such as Sterling Brown who had a knee to his neck and was punched and tased by the Milwaukee Police Department after parking incorrectly and former Bucks Center John Henson who had the cops called on after being racially profiled while he was shopping for jewelry. It was also said that the emotional stress of being inside the bubble, as Paul George recently opened up about, and the Jacob Blake killing sparked the players to snap and start the boycott. As games were being postponed, the NBA had a meeting later that night to decide how to move forward. It was said that Clippers coaches Doc Rivers and Armond Hill and Rockets coach John Lucas spoke out. It was also reported that some of the players who spoke out included LeBron James, Kyle Korver, Damian Lillard, Patrick Beverley, Carmelo Anthony, and Jaylen Brown and that every team took a vote on if they wanted to continue the season. It was said that the Lakers and Clippers did not want to at that time so LeBron James left the meeting room and the Lakers and Clippers followed.

After another meeting today, it was said stances have changed and every team will resume the NBA season as they still try to highlight the bigger picture that is going on, police reform and ending that brutality. A big reason for this continuation is that coaches and players believe if they do leave the bubble, it would take away their huge platform and they want to address the issues now and while they have this platform.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Key Adjustments the LA Clippers Need to Make for Game 2 Against the Dallas Mavericks

ImageIt was ugly, but the Clippers beat the Mavericks the other day in Game 1 of the 1st round. The Clippers started up big, then the Mavericks went on a huge run, then after a Kristaps Porzingis ejection early in the 3rd quarter, the Clippers came back and won by 8. Kawhi Leonard lead the team in scoring with 29 points and also had 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Paul George had 27 points, Marcus Morris played great on both sides of the ball and had 19 points on 8-13 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals, and Ivica Zubac had a double double but other than that, the rest of the guys did not play well. Reggie Jackson and Lou Williams struggled on both sides of the ball, Montrezl Harrell couldn't pick up where he left off months ago, Patrick Beverley got into foul trouble, and JaMychal Green didn't play bad but didn't play great either. On the other side, Luka Doncic had 42 points in his playoff debut, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 18 points with 4 threes, Seth Curry had 14 points with 4 threes, and Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points in the 20 minutes that he played before getting ejected from his 2nd technical foul. Game 1 showed us a lot from each side and here are some adjustments the Clippers have to make for Game 2 and the rest of the series.

Intensity/The Easing Up Problem

The Clippers went up by 16 points early in the game. Everyone was hitting shots and playing great defense with great communication. They looked like they couldn't be stopped but then the Mavericks went on a run where they outscored the Clippers by 30. This has happened before in the season where the Clippers build up a big lead and then blow it in a matter of minutes. The Clippers get way too comfortable and start taking bad shots. When they take these shots, they then dig themselves into a hole and continue to take them to try to get out of that whole, making it even worse. The intensity levels drop a ton when the Clippers have a double-digit lead and this cannot happen. We saw Patrick Beverley play outstanding defense the 1st few minutes of Game 1 and the rest of the Clippers had great defense too at that time, but now Beverley is out for Game 2 and someone else needs to bring the intensity (especially on defense). They forced Luka Doncic into 4 early turnovers. This defensive intensity has to continue to happen and the Clippers can't soften up or they'll blow their lead.

Defending Shooters

The Clippers have continued to defend horribly on shooters. We've seen a lot of this in bubble play where they leave shooters open to hit easy shots off of poorly thought out help defense scenarios. This was the same thing the Clippers did in one of the restart bubble games against Dallas but the Mavericks actually hit their shots this time around. The Mavericks have a team of all shooters (yes, even Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can apparently shoot all of the sudden) and the Clippers cannot put much emphasis on help defense. Players like Reggie Jackson and Lou Williams have to stay out guarding the perimeter as if they don't, Curry and Hardaway Jr. can hit easy threes. Luckily, Coach Doc Rivers sees that players have been giving up easy shots and will likely aid players towards fixing that problem.

Being Aggressive on Both Ends

Being aggressive is the main adjustment the Clippers need to make for this game. There shouldn't be any settling for bad shots that cost them the game. The Clippers HAVE TO take the ball to the hoop. A key idea in this is going right at Maxi Kleber and trying to draw him into foul trouble. Kleber is a lanky big that can shoot the three well and if he gets into foul trouble, that means that Boban Marjanovic will come in who doesn't shoot the three much. This will help as Zubac can protect the paint more as he wouldn't be near the three point line defending Kleber. On defense, the Clippers also have to find a way to be aggressive without getting fouls called on them which has been a problem. Players like Ivica Zubac, JaMychal Green, PG, and Kawhi can get into foul trouble easily and with Scott Foster officiating and his bad history with the LA Clippers, it won't be any easier to stay out of foul trouble but the team cannot lose these players to fouls.

Stepping Up

With Patrick Beverley out, the Clippers need their whole team to step up. Last game we saw Zu, Kawhi, PG, and Morris play great, but everyone else played poorly. Granted, we did have some clutch Beverley 4th quarter rebounds, but everyone needs to do their part for this team. Marcus Morris played amazing last game as he hit shots throughout the game to keep the Clippers in it and also played solid defense on a fiery Luka Doncic who finished with 42 points. This team loses a key defender in Patrick Beverley and the Clippers need the 'good' Reggie Jackson to step up tonight and find players than rather having the Reggie Jackson who forces up shots and makes poor defensive decisions. This will also be Montrezl Harrell's 2nd game back and the Clippers need him to get back into his groove, along with key bench players like JaMychal Green and Lou Williams in order for the team to win.

Tonights game starts at 6 PM PT on TNT.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The strategy behind the LA Clippers sitting Kawhi Leonard for today's game vs the Portland Trail Blazers

NBA fines Clippers $50,000 because Doc Rivers said Kawhi Leonard ...

Coming off of a solid 126-111 win against the Mavericks, the Clippers announced that Kawhi Leonard (along with Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley) will not play in their game today against the Portland Trail Blazers due to 'injury management, left knee soreness'. We've seen this all year where Leonard would sit 1 game in a back to back which Doc Rivers claims that that's the case here and the Clippers 'don't worry about other teams' but that may not be true.

The Clippers have been playing very strategically all year taking much precaution when any player gets hurt as they want to be ready come playoff time. In this case, the Clippers are showing their strategy as they might want to 'throw' the game. The Trail Blazers currently are in 9th place in the West and the Clippers want them to get that 8th spot or stay 9th and be at be at most 4 games behind 8th. This season, if the 8th seed is 4 games or fewer ahead of the 9th seed, those teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the 8th seed for the playoffs.

So, the Clippers want Portland to stay close in that race and eventually take the 8th seed. They believe that the Blazers can give the Lakers (who hold the 1st seed), the most trouble in the 1st round of the playoffs. This could be the case too as Portland has stars like Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and other good players in Jusuf Nurkic, Hassan Whiteside, and Carmelo Anthony whereas other teams who are fighting for 8th (the Grizzlies, Spurs, Pelicans, Suns, and Kings) are very young and wouldn't be as much of a threat for the Lakers as the Blazers could be.

So who should Clippers fans root for to win today? The Clippers, obviously. But at the same time know that they should not be upset if Portland did win. Now if the Clippers lose today, that means they would have a 1 game lead over the Nuggets (who play the 5th-placed Jazz today). In other words, if the Nuggets win and the Clippers lose today, the Nuggets (who next play the Lakers who could counter and sit LeBron James and Anthony Davis) could eventually catch up with the Clippers. But, this shouldn't worry Clippers fans either. If the Clippers do finish 3rd in the West instead of 2nd, that means they could play the Thunder which could be a better 1st round matchup for them than playing Dallas. Getting 3rd means they'd face the Nuggets in the 2nd round if they and Denver were to win in the 1st which would have happened anyways. 

Lastly, the Lakers getting the 1st seed may not be as much of an advantage for this season, as yes they would have home court for the playoffs, but we all know that there isn't really much of an advantage for that during this unprecedented time, but they also wouldn't know who to prepare for due to the 8th vs 9th game play-in that will most likely happen. Just know, the Clippers want the Lakers to end up preparing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Also with Kawhi out today, this helps him get 2 days of rest before the Clippers play the Nets tomorrow and then he will have 2 more days of rest after before they play the Nuggets on Wednesday.

Friday, July 31, 2020

The main reason the Clippers lost to the Lakers on restart night and how they can beat the Lakers

ImageOn the night of the NBA restart, the Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 103-101. With the Clippers, missing their 2 six man candidates in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George really had to step up and they did. Leonard had 28 points shooting 7-16 from the field, 3-4 from three, stealing the ball twice, and also blocking 2 shots in 33 minutes and George had 30 points shooting 11-17 from the field on 6-11 from beyond the arc with 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

This game began with players and coaches kneeling for the national anthem with arms locked including Doc Rivers locking his arms with Lakers Coach Frank Vogel and Anthony Davis in an act of social justice and step towards racial equality. The actual game itself started out sloppy with lots of questionable foul calls from Scott Foster and his crew. The Clippers had 13 fouls in the 1st quarter alone. Leonard, Morris, Zubac, Green, Noah, and Beverley each had 2 fouls at the end of the 1st. Also, with Beverley on a minutes limit, Reggie Jackson played 34 minutes and scored 10 points on 10 shots with 4 assists and 4 turnovers.

But, the main reason the Clippers lost this game was in the 3rd quarter. The Clippers were down by 12 at the end of the 1st, slowly came back to cut it down to 2 at halftime, and went on a big run in the 3rd. Paul George hit back to back threes and Kawhi hit a three and the Lakers called a timeout and that's when the downfall really started. PG had to come out the play before Leonard's three because of his 4th foul which was ultimately the reason the Clippers struggled.

Paul George was clearly the games best player as he continued to prove all of his haters wrong this game. Granted, Anthony Davis did have 34 points but shot 8-19 from the field and lived at the free throw line shooting 16-17 there. When the Lakers called that timeout, they were down by 11. There was 7:05 left in the 3rd which is a ton of time in the game but their run after the timeout really swung the whole momentum the Clippers built up from their flurry of threes. With PG sitting, LeBron James hit a three and Davis finished an alley-oop and the Lakers chipped away at the Clippers' lead. Then Leonard was subbed out and the Lakers cut it down to 1 heading into the 4th.

The Lakers went on a 14-3 run to start the 4th and left the Clippers playing catch up for a while. But, the Clippers did come back thanks to Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers cut it down to a 4 point game with 2 minutes left when Doc Rivers surprisingly brought in Landry Shamet who has had a bad game up to this point shooting 1-8. Now it's understandable Doc wanted a shooter in for Marcus Morris who also struggled, but him putting in Shamet was not the right move. He probably would've been better off putting in Beverley who was hot in the 4th quarter. Anyways, Shamet turned the ball over when he entered. PG later hit a clutch three with 28 seconds left to tie it and then LeBron rebounded his own missed shot and finished it to take the lead. The Clippers had 1 last chance and it ended with PG tossing up a three which resulted in the Lakers winning.

Although the Clippers lost, there were a lot of positives from this game from them. They only lost by 2 with Harrell and Williams out, Beverley played ONLY 16 minutes (and did score 12 points), they had guys in foul trouble for a lot of the game and still managed to play aggressive, and players like Shamet, Zubac, Morris, and Jackson struggled when they all probably won't if playing the Lakers again. These are all things the Clippers can fix. One thing that could be worth noting for the Clippers is the substitutions made by Coach Doc Rivers. We know that Ivica Zubac doesn't usually play in the 4th quarter, but with Montrezl Harrell out we though we'd see more of him. We didn't. This may be because of how he struggled a bit with rebounding this game but Rivers doesn't usually play him anyways in crunch time when he should because the Clippers need rebounds (as showed by LeBron getting his own and making the game winning putback). Also it was strange that Doc continued to play Shamet when he was obviously struggling and play Reggie when he wasn't great in the 2nd half when Beverley played well in the 4th and when he didn't put in Terance Mann or Rodney McGruder at all. Other than those, Rivers coached well as he continued to fight for his team and did make nice calls with inserting Patterson and Green into lineups more who both played well. It was also nice to see  Amir Coffey and Joakim Noah contribute well in their limited minutes.

But, while some of the Clippers looked a bit rusty, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George didn't miss a beat which is a very good sign to see. With a few tweaks, the Clippers are bound to keep winning like they did before the season was suspended. The Clippers next play the Pelicans (who need to win to fight for that 8th playoff spot at) at 3PM PT.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Lou Williams receives 10-day mandated quarantine and the Clippers vs Wizards Recap

On Thursday night rapper Jack Harlow posted a picture on Instagram with Clippers guard Lou Williams at the Magic City Gentlemen's club. At first, Harlow denied this picture was recent as he said he "reminiscing" because he missed Williams. After the picture blew up on social media, Lou admitted to league officials that he was at the club but he said he only stopped by to get food as he's said over the years that Magic City is also one of his favorite restaurants. Williams claims he was a Magic City for a short time and then left to go to his grandfather's funeral a day later.

With the 10-day quarantine Williams will have to miss the Clippers' final scrimmage game against the Kings and the first 2 regular season games against the Lakers and the Pelicans. He will be able to return on August 4th against the Suns. The Clippers will have to have players like Reggie Jackson, Landry Shamet, and Rodney McGruder step up in his absence. Terance Mann and Amir Coffey may also see some more playing time with him out.

In other news, Ivica Zubac and Landry Shamet have entered the bubble, Montrezl Harrell says he's coming back soon and Patrick Beverley is expected to return soon. Yesterday the Clippers beat the Wizards 105-100 after stellar performances by the 3rd string players. With Kawhi Leonard struggling as he scored 6 points going 3-16 from the field and 0-8 from 3 in 24 minutes and Paul George struggling as he scored 11 points on 10 shots and shot 1-4 from the free throw line, the Clippers needed others to step up and they did. Marcus Morris had 13 points on 5-9 shooting, Reggie Jackson had 10 points in 20 minutes, JaMychal Green had 9 points and 10 rebounds, Patrick Patterson had 16 points on 70% shooting along with 6 rebounds, Terance Mann had 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists, Amir Coffey had 13 points, and Rodney McGruder also had 13 points and 5 rebounds to go along with some clutch shots. Joakim Noah also had a great defensive game as he only scored 1 point but contributed with his 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks. In other words, the whole team stepped up when PG and Kawhi didn't play well and that's a great sign for the Clippers to see that they may have even more bench depth than we thought.

The Clippers face the Kings tomorrow at 1PM PT.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Lou Williams Leaves the NBA Bubble After Stellar Scrimmage Game

LA Clippers SG Lou Williams has left the NBA Orlando bubble due for excused personal reasons, LA Times' Andrew Grief reports.

This loss is crucial for the LA Clippers as he's the 3rd player they've lost in the bubble. Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley are the other 2 and Ivica Zubac and Landry Shamet have yet to join the team in the Orlando bubble. Out of the Top 7 Clippers who play the most, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are the only ones with the team in the Orlando bubble.

It's said that all of these players are coming to Orlando but Clipper fans encountered a scare yesterday as the NBA G-League Twitter posted that Jonathan Motley would be joining the Clippers in Orlando. This led many to think that Zubac or Harrell would not be going as Motley is another big man that would take their sport but Andrew Grief says that this is not accurate and the Clippers will be staying with their original 15-man roster.

The Clippers are now very short-handed with Williams leaving. It is still uncertain when these 5 players will come to the bubble so other role players like Reggie Jackson, Joakim Noah, and Rodney McGruder will have to step up during their absence. There also is a decent chance that the Clippers will not have the players out of the bubble for the first regular season game against the Lakers on July 30th as they have to spend 4-10 days in quarantine when re-entering the bubble if they were tested regularly while out of the bubble and if they were not tested regularly, they have to quarantine for 14 days. During the Clippers' 9 point win in their first scrimmage game against the Magic, Williams had 22 points on 53.8% shooting in just 16 minutes. He arguably played the best on the Clippers and looked very comfortable being back out there as it concluded that the NBA season suspension for coronavirus helped him.

The Clippers will give more playing time to guards like Terance Mann (who surprisingly only played 7 minutes against the Magic), Rodney McGruder, Amir Coffey, and Reggie Jackson (who has already been filling in for Beverley) due to Williams' absence. The Los Angeles Clippers will face the Washington Wizards tomorrow at 5 PM Pacific Time.

We hope all is well for Lou Williams and his family!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Patrick Beverley leaves Orlando bubble day before Clippers' first game

LA Clippers PG Patrick Beverley has left the NBA Orlando bubble due to an "emergency personal matter", according to ESPN's Malika Andrews.

Beverley traveled with the Clippers since they left for Orlando on July 8th. He is now the second Clipper to leave the bubble and the 4th to not be in the bubble as of now.

Montrezl Harrell also left the bubble due to a family emergency involving his grandmother. Landry Shamet has yet to enter the bubble after his positive test for coronavirus and Ivica Zubac has yet to enter as well but they've both indicated on their Instagram stories they will be there soon. Marcus Morris recently joined and got in a day of practice with the team before their scrimmage against the Magic later today.

It's uncertain when these players will return to the bubble as the Clippers organization has kept quiet on their players entering the bubble as noted from Marcus Morris surprisingly practicing yesterday after there were no reports that he entered. In other words, he entered a couple days before practice, quarantined for those 2 days, and then was cleared to practice. These players have to spend 4-10 days in quarantine when re-entering the bubble if they were tested regularly while out of the bubble. If they were not tested regularly, they will have to quarantine for 14 days.

It looks like the Clippers won't have Harrell and Beverley for all 3 scrimmage games and maybe even the first regular season game of the season restart on July 30th against the Lakers. As for Zubac and Shamet, we're still unsure on their status as they may have entered the bubble already but the Clippers could be keeping quiet on it like they did with Morris. The Clippers will play today's first scrimmage game short-handed likely starting Reggie Jackson in at Point Guard for Beverley and Joakim Noah at Center as he is currently the team's only Center.

Lastly, Head Coach Doc Rivers has hinted they may not want to play key players like Kawhi Leonard or Paul George much during scrimmage games which is understandable. Doc Rivers and the Clippers want to be completely healthy with their full squad for the 8 regular season games and more importantly, the playoffs.

We hope all is well for Patrick Beverley and his family and Montrezl Harrell and his family.