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.