In case you missed it, here is a five second summary of L.A.’s seven game road trip so far:
-Game 1: Lost a close one to a Pelicans team sans Anthony Davis
-Game 2: Won by 20 against the Spurs (arguably the best win of the season)
-Game 3: Blew a 9 point lead against the Nets with just 1:35 left to play
Things aren’t looking good for the Clippers as we countdown to the highly anticipated Christmas Night rematch against the Golden State Warriors. The Clips started off a hectic upcoming week with a loss in Denver last night, the first of five games in a seven day span. To compound things, they will have to travel to a different time zone in between each game.
The upcoming schedule includes two back-to-backs as well as elite competition from teams such as San Antonio (17-10), Atlanta (18-7), and Golden State (22-3). And while the Bucks (14-13) are not quite up to par with the others, they just beat the Clippers a week ago in Milwaukee.
After stumbling to a 5-4 start, the Clippers have rebounded with the most successful road trip in franchise history. They won an unprecedented six out of seven games with the only loss coming to an emerging Memphis Grizzlies team led by darkhorse MVP candidate Marc Gasol. It helps that the opposition was softer than usual; the wins came against Orlando, Miami (without Dwyane Wade), Charlotte, Detroit, Houston (without Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley), and Utah. Regardless, the Clippers won these games in convincing fashion and look to have snapped out of their funk. They became the first team in NBA history to have an average win margin above 11 in a road trip of seven games or longer, proving their dominance as of late.
The 2014-15 NBA Season is rolling along. It’s still early, but teams are beginning to show their true colors, players are figuring out their roles, and fans are beginning to form their opinions. So in case you’ve missed out on the action, the Franchise is here to break down three hot topics from the NBA in three days. This is part 3, but you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. So without further ado…
What has surprised you most thus far in the NBA season?
As a Clipper fan, I had a feeling we were going to get stomped on in Oracle Arena. It’s still early in the season, but the Clippers have been suspect throughout the preseason and through the beginning of the regular season. Sure we miss Collison, sure we're still missing an athletic 3 (despite Reggie Bullock looking good), sure this is our 5th game in 7 days, sure the Warriors played terrific. And if you think it had something to do with our former assistant coach Alvin Gentry joining the Warriors coaching staff, I’ll even give you that. But the real question is, what’s going on in Smog City?
Not to take anything away from the Warriors (no flex). They're good, and they know it... It shows in their confidence and intensity. But I'm not here to marvel at how good the Warriors looked. I'll leave that up to the Bay Area. I want to focus on two things I took away from the Clippers-Warriors game.
Three of the NBA’s best power forwards couldn’t be more different. Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge all have legitimate cases for claiming the title of top dog, (so does Anthony Davis, who has had two incredible games thus far) and each for completely different reasons:
Kevin Love might be the best rebounder in the NBA despite never being the biggest nor most athletic player on the court. While he is a defensive liability, Love has an incredible basketball IQ, a plethora of moves in the post, a nice stroke from the outside, and one of the greatest outlet passes in recent memory.
Yes, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Doc Rivers are all back. Yes, Ralph Lawler will be back on the mic, announcing each and every "Bingo!" and alerting us of Lawler's Law (it's the law!). But no, not much else will be the same.
Though most of their biggest cogs remain the same from last season, the Los Angeles Clippers are a very different team and organization this year. Some changes I like, some I don't, and some are just... going to be hard to get used to. So let's break down some of the most important things to look out for in the upcoming season.
It is pretty far-fetched to talk about LeBron James suiting up in a Clippers uniform next year. The Clippers already have around $70 million committed to their roster for the 2014-15 season. Furthermore, word around the league is that Blake Griffin is “untouchable,” meaning the Clippers will have to find a way to unload DeAndre Jordan’s contract along with some combination of JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, and Matt Barnes in order to offer James the type of money he will command in free agency. While Jordan has blossomed into one of the more desirable centers in the league, none of those other players will be easy to trade (except for Dudley… who is downright untradeable at this point).
But what if LeBron James was willing to sign for the veteran’s minimum of $1,448,490? I know what you’re thinking: “It’s rumored that LeBron wants the max. So why in the world would he sign the veteran’s minimum?”