Cleat Geeks

Could Meyers Be More Outside of Portland?

Portland Trail Blazers power forward/center Meyers Leonard was the 11th overall pick in the first round in the 2012 NBA draft and in 2016, signed a four-year contract extension worth $41 million. Despite this, he has been relegated to the bottom of the Blazers rotation and just a couple of weeks ago heard boos from Blazers fans. Last season, he dealt with a nagging shoulder injury and producing his worst shooting season of his career despite signing the extension.

In 11 games this season, he is averaging 6.1 points per game but has started just two games and has only started in 40 games in his 6th season. In three road games this week, Leonard did not play at all but he seemed to be optimistic about turning the corner during the off-season.

“I’ve been working out a lot,’’ Leonard said in July while watching the Blazers’ Summer League entrant in Las Vegas. “I’m confident where I’m at in my progression this summer. And, I feel healthy. I feel as good as I have in five years.”

His head coach Terry Stotts had an observation of Leonard after last season is that he needs to “get a feel of reacting to the game.”

Furthermore, the Blazers coaching staff believes he needs to engage more in 5-on-5 action. Going forward, one of his main goals needs to be to not just appear in a game for 15 minutes, but to show he can start in a few more games. I am kind of puzzled because he seems to have a positive learning attitude, but there may be something that is happening behind the scenes that contradict this.Image result for meyers leonard

I am honestly not sure if he is going to have much of a future with the Blazers and was mentioned in trade rumors shortly after the season started.

He played two seasons collegiality at the University of Illinois at Champaign, and in his last season before going to the NBA, averaged over 13 and a half points a game, while also averaging nearly two blocks a game. What stood out is that from his first season to second at Illinois is that his shooting percentage improved by 10%. It is easy to second guess but I think it would have been beneficial for Leonard to play one more season at Illinois and have two seasons in a row where he would have started in a range of 28-30 games.

Let’s not forget that he is 7’1 and 255 pounds, he can be a powerful force inside and over power other teams big men. While I am not comparing him to Shaq, I would imagine that other NBA players would say that he could be an intimidating force on the court. With this being said, I think the longer he is in the pacific northwest, he will not get too many reps and the key to turning the corner is to get as many reps as possible. The good news is that he is only 25, but something will need to change because it would be unfortunate if he does not pan out considering how big and bulky this man is. Even in an era where it has become cool to shoot threes, fans still like seeing big men doing poster dunks with defenders in their face.

Top Ten Thursdays; NBA Basketball

Week 9 of the NBA season is behind us and many teams continue to dominate while some continue to fall short.

10. Denver Nuggets (15-13) Previous Rank: 10
Last game: Lost to the Boston Celtics 124-118
Next game: Friday night against the New Orleans Pelicans
With the Nuggets star out with an injury, Gary Harris has stepped into the role to help the team succeed.

 

9. Indiana Pacers (16-12) Previous Rank: N/A
Last game: Lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-95
Next game: Friday against the Detroit Pistons
Victor Oladipo seems to be the leader the Pacers needed to find success this season.

 

8. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-12) Previous Rank: 9
Last game: Lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in OT
Next game: Tonight against the Sacramento Kings
The Minnesota core has meshed well with each other early and the defense has grown with the addition of Butler.

 

7. Milwaukee Bucks (15-11) Previous Rank: N/A
Last game: Lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 115-108
Next game: Friday against the Chicago Bulls
The Greek Freak has improved a lot this season and with Bledsoe helping bring more offensive power early this season the team will continue to thrive.

 

6. Toronto Raptors (18-8) Previous Rank: 6
Last game: Defeated the Phoenix Suns 115-109
Next game: Friday against the Brooklyn Nets
The Raptors have the offensive firepower to be a legit threat in the east behind the dominance of DeRozan and Lowry.

 

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (20-8) Previous Rank: 4
Last game: Defeated the Atlanta Hawks 123-114
Next game: Tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers
Lebron keeps up the fire power and shows the league that he can still improve and dominate.

 

4. San Antonio Spurs (19-9) Previous Rank: 5
Last game: Lost to the Dallas Mavericks 95-89
Next game: Friday against the Houston Rockets
The Spurs dominated without superstar Kawhi Leonard, now imagine the success with him healthy and on the court.

 

3. Boston Celtics (24-6) Previous Rank: 2
Last game: Defeated the Denver Nuggets 124-118
Next game: Friday against the Utah Jazz
Kyrie and company have much to talk about after fixing the defense and now run the east.

 

2. Golden State Warriors (22-6) Previous Rank: 3
Last game: Defeated the Portland Trailblazers 111-104
Next game: Tonight against the Dallas Mavericks
Even with key player Steph Curry, the Warriors have Durant to help lead them to victory.

 

1. Houston Rockets (22-4) Previous Rank: 1
Last game: Defeated the Charlotte Hornets 108-96
Next game: Friday against the Houston Rockets
The powerful duo Harden and Paul continue to excite and prove their dominance in the west.

Cross-Court Cavs: Streak Gone, No Worries

The streak has finally ended this week, but not without tremendous upside as well. The Cavaliers played 4 games this past week, and took home 3 of 4 wins. It was an end of a stretch that showed us how great this team can be, as we have a lot to look forward to going forward.

The United Center in Chicago was the site for game 1 of the week for the squad, where the rebuilding Bulls tried to hang with the talented Cavs, but were no match. Kevin dropped in 24 points and added 13 rebounds to put on a typical Kevin Love like performance. His growing veteran leadership helped push the Cavs through a young Bulls core with a 113-91 victory.

The trip home for Wednesday’s contest with the Sacramento Kings was a quick pit stop. The Kings, another team undergoing a rebuild, were no match for LeBron and Kevin Love. The King himself poured in 24 points, dishing out 9 assists in a game that was closer than it realistically should have been. Credit goes to the Kings for hanging around through, but the veteran presence couldn’t be matched in a 101-95 victory.

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The streak all Cleveland fans have enjoyed finally came to an end on Friday against the Indiana Pacers. The resurgence of Victor Oladipo took over, as he dropped in 33 points, including the game sealing three pointer to send the Cavs back to Cleveland looking to start a new streak. The Pacers have surprised everyone so far this year, as Oladipo and Myles Turner have led the young core to a 5th seed in the East, and this win against the Cavs couldn’t have come at a better time, especially in 106-102 fashion.

The last slate of the week for the Cavs, with a fresh start and new streak to be born, put them up against the Philadelphia 76ers and The Process. The squad sure trusted The Process, but also shut it down on Sunday when they took care of business in a 105-98 victory. LeBron poured in a triple double, with 30-13-13, and showed the young guns how it was done down the stretch, helping guide his team to a 3-1 week.

Overall, this has been yet another great week for the Cavs, with much improvement being shown. The squad has taken on some tough teams and this next week will be even more of a challenge. Look for the train to not stop from the Cavs as the 3rd seed will look to become the 1st in a hurry.

Top 10 Thursday; NBA Basketball

Week 8 of the NBA season is behind us and teams continue to try and find their place while others continue to be dominant. One team has even “streaked” there way to a higher ranking.

10. Denver Nuggets (13-10) Previous Rank: N/A
​Last game: Lost to the Dallas Mavericks 122-105
​Next game: Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans
The Nuggets are 3-7 on the road this season and are going on a 6 game road trip, with or without Nikola Jokic. The last time the Nuggets went positive on a road trip was back in 2013 when they went 4-2 under Brian Shaw.

 

9. Minnesota (14-11) Previous Rank: 10
Last game: Lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 95-92
Next game: Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers
Minnesota is 7-5 this season in games within 5 points in the final five minutes of the game. Last season the Timberwolves didn’t record their seventh such win until January.

 

8. Philadelphia (13-10) Previous Rank: 9
​Last game: Lost to the Phoenix Suns 115-101
​Next game: Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers
Robert Covington has become a true playmaker for the 76ers so far this season ranking 6th in real plus-minus and first in defensive plus-minus this season.

 

7. Detroit (14-9) Previous Rank: 5
​Last game: Lost to the San Antonio Spurs 96-93
​Next game: Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks
The Pistons star Center Andre Drummond seems to have found his groove again as he leads the league in double-doubles while averaging more than a block and steal per game.

 

6. Toronto (15-7) Previous Rank: 7
​Last game: Defeated the Phoenix Suns 126-113
Next game: Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies
In the past 10 games, Kyle Lowry has averaged 20.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 7.5 APG while shooting 50% from the floor and 48% from 3-point range.

 

5. San Antonio (16-8) Previous Rank: 4​
​Last game: Defeated the Detroit Pistons 96-93
Next game: Wednesday against the Miami Heat
With Spurs are 15-8 without Kawhi Leonard but the offense needs a spark. Ranking 18th in offensive efficiency, which would be the worst under Popovich since he began coaching.

 

4. Cleveland (17-7) Previous Rank: 6
​Last game: Defeated the Chicago Bulls 113-91
Next game: Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings
Lebron James is having himself a career year as his efficiency rating currently is 44.1 which is the highest in the NBA with second being Porzingis with 35.4.

 

3. Golden State (19-6) Previous Rank: 3
​Last game: Defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 125-115
​Next game: Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets
Kevin Durant currently leads the league with 1.12 points per chance as a cutter off ball screens in the league.

 

2. Boston (21-4) Previous Rank: 1
​Last game: Defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 111-100
Next game: Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks
Rookie Jayson Tatum has made at least half of his 3-pointers in all three games last week and is No. 1 in 3-point field goal percentage, which is the first time in Celtic history a player has lead that stat.

 

1. Houston (18-4) Previous Rank: 2
Last game: Defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 118-95
Next game: Thursday against the Utah Jazz
The Rockets have been unstoppable since the return of Chris Paul. They have led by as many as 20 points in each of their past 7 wins since his return.

Cross-Court Cavs: The Streak Lives On!

The Cleveland Cavaliers are on a tear, and it doesn’t look like anyone can stop them right now. That is the lesson four tough teams learned this week in basketball action for the Cavs, which all resulted in wins, setting the streak up to 11 games. The Cavs are firing on all cylinders, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

For this past week, the team started off in Philadelphia to match-up with the Sixers and “the Process.”  They came out red hot in the first half, and never looked back, with LeBron James pouring in 30 points and several other double digit scorers right behind him. It was an all around effort that proved how dominant the Cavs could be, in 113-91 victory fashion, and sent the hopeful city of Philadelphia looking for answers.

The next contest brought the team back home on Tuesday to welcome in LeBron’s former team, the Miami Heat. Kevin Love was the star of the show this time, dropping in 38 points in what was another dominant performance from the Cavs. The first quarter surge, led by Love, was an outburst of the offense the team has been searching for all year. It was yet another great upside to add to the streak with a 108-97 win.

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The final two battles of the week were much closer than the first two, with a 7 point victory in Atlanta on Thursday, and a 5 point win against Memphis on Saturday at home. Kevin Love and LeBron James led the way in both games, as the team took control of a rebuilding Atlanta team and showed a struggling Grizzlies team how to play a full 48 minutes. Both of these games were both learning experiences for the whole 14 man roster, as the leaders of the squad stepped up and showed us all how this team can get on a roll and never look back.

This week, overall, has been a part of an exciting stretch of the season for the Cavs. The streak is currently at 11 games, with a manageable week coming up next. The hype around the team is building up, and the guys are starting to embrace it, putting on a show we can only be more than excited about.

L.A. Clippers Have Serious Options & Questions With C DeAndre Jordan

After so many expectations and hope for a positive trend of change for the Los Angeles Clippers, injuries have once again plagued the team. The Clippers have now lost 4 of their 5 season-opening starters to injuries for a significant amount of time. PG Patrick Beverley is out for the season after his start against the New York Knicks after originally missing five games with a sore knee. C DeAndre Jordan is the only season-opening starter that has been healthy and plays consistently.

Now that the Clippers are 8-14 as well as  2nd place in the Pacific Division and 10th in the Western Conference, they are trying to find out how to win without Beverley or PF Blake Griffin, who suffered a minor knee injury in the game against their rivals in the Los Angeles Lakers. He will be out until around late January. One topic or rumor that seems to come up constantly is whether or not to trade C DeAndre Jordan to another team for key players and fill-in positions. This comes at a time when Jordan just hired an agent for him on Monday for the first time in 2 years, especially being a player-option free agent at the end of the season. Despite the multiple options the two-time 1st NBA All-Defensive team player could enquire, the Clippers should very careful of their options in regards to Jordan.

 

DeAndre Jordan – The Only Healthy Franchise Player

When PG Chris Paul left the Clippers, the leadership and responsibility didn’t just fall onto PF Blake Griffin but onto C DeAndre Jordan as well. While losing Paul did help make Jordan less impactful as a two-dimensional player (mostly on offense through assists) DeAndre is still making his presence known on the court. So far this season, Jordan has accounted for an average of 10.5 points per game, 13.9 rebounds per game, 1.14 blocks per game, a field goal percentage of .685%, and a free-throw percentage of .583% all on 32.4 minutes per game. Jordan has averaged 11 double-doubles in 22 games he has played and started this season. His rebounds is the 2nd highest accounted for in a season, this year is also his 5th highest field goal percentage, 4th in points per game, and his best career free-throwing percentage.

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This season so far has been brutal for the Clippers players where starting PG/SG Milos Teodosic (foot), starting SF Danilo Gallinari (glute), starting PG Patrick Beverley (knee) and starting PF Blake Griffin (knee) all suffered injuries. Teodosic and Gallinari could be back by Wednesday’s home against the Minnesota Timberwolves (14-11). Likely they could be back before a 4-game road trip starting on Wednesday, December 13th at the Orlando Magic (10-15). Blake Griffin will be out for a while with his knee injury but luckily it wasn’t a devastating knee injury. Expect him back around late January. The Clippers will be hit hard without their star Point Guard and defender in Patrick Beverley, who is out for the season.

November has been unbelievably tough for the Clippers and Clippers Nation. Los Angeles went 4-10 in the month of November including a 9-game losing streak where inefficiency, injuries, and potency all were a cause for the downfall. Despite Jordan accounting for 10.4 points per game, 12.7 rebounds per game and accounting for a .721 field goal percentage, Jordan had problems getting the ball with sloppy passing and having the paint tightly covered with him and Blake being the only consistent players outside SG Lou Williams. Teams have been focusing on Jordan and the direction of how he gets the ball, thus limiting him on offense. Even though Jordan has been one of the healthiest players on the team, it has been more difficult for him to perform on the court without a strong supporting cast outside Lou Williams.

 

Options The Clippers Have For Jordan: Trade, Keep And Resign, Or Lose Him

Once again, the Los Angeles Clippers have a tough decision to make with C DeAndre Jordan until February 8th. Jordan will be a player-option free agent where he can walk away and the Clippers get nothing in return. He could also be traded to another team who needs a solid rim protector of equal value. The Clippers could also wait and try to make DeAndre a new deal for either more money, take the year remaining clause on his current contract, or try and convince him to stay for less money so the team can add more solid and healthier teammates. All of them are incredibly risky to not only the Clippers organization but to DeAndre Jordan as well.

Jordan has stated that he wants to be a part of the Los Angeles Clippers organization and the Clippers organization still want to keep him. There does come the matter if they will lose a couple of their star players after the season. Griffin, Teodosic, and Gallinari have long contracts with the Clippers but this season is the last of their contract for PG Patrick Beverley, SG Lou Williams, SG Austin Rivers, and C Willie Reed. Reed and Beverley might be easier to secure for a long-term contract than Lou Williams. Keeping Griffin, Jordan, Gallinari and the rest of the Clippers enact will be expensive unless Jordan is willing to work in a contract reduction. Jordan could be interested in marketing himself for Image result for malcolm brogdon bucksadvertisements to fill in the void of the money lost from the Clippers. Thus hiring an agent for this purpose.

If the trade rumors are true then the Clippers will have to find a team that needs a solid two-dimensional player and can fill the void of both the injured players and Jordan departing. There are a number of teams willing to trade an equivalent value for DeAndre Jordan but it is unknown if they are willing to. The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the top teams interested in DeAndre and PF John Henson, 2016-2017 NBA rookie of the year in PG Malcolm Brogdon, and SF/PF Khris Middleton have come up multiple times in the trade talks. If the Clippers need to add another piece to make this trade possible, PF Brice Johnson might be the other Clipper traded too.Image result for tristan thompson

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that needs a solid Center and is willing to trade C Tristian Thompson, SG Iman Shumpert and a 2018 NBA Draft pick (possibly the Nets’ high pick). Tristian would be in Los Angeles where his girlfriend in Khloe Kardashian lives. The problem is for the Cavs is that Iman Shumpert has recently undergone knee surgery and will be out for another 8 weeks. Finally, the Washington Wizards are the latest team to come into the trade rumors for DeAndre Jordan. C Marcin Gortat, PF Markieff Morris and 2nd year rising star Kelly Oubre Jr. could be in the trade discussion. PF Brice Johnson or SF Sam Dekker could be the trade pieces needed to be added to make the trade equivalent.

 

Winning Cures Everything

All of the good offers that the Clippers will receive for C DeAndre Jordan will help the team in the short-run but will it be in the long run as well? The only thing that may truly benefit the Clippers is if they receive the Brooklyn Nets high Draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft from the Cleveland Cavaliers. There are a ton of great top Center prospect that L.A. could be in the running for. Losing DeAndre when the Clippers have already lost Griffin or a while and Beverley for the season won’t entirely help the team.

The Clippers might need to take another 3 games to get situated and possibly prepare for Gallinari and Teodosic to be back at 100%. After they get back in the lineup, the Los Angeles Clippers will become more efficient in scoring, defending, and overall moving more efficiently. Time will tell if the Clippers will make the move but winning will heal every wound Los Angeles has suffered so far this season.

 

 

Top Ten Thursday; NBA Basketball

Week 7 of the NBA season has come to an end and with multiple teams surprising us earlier this season should be exciting. We did not have a Top Ten Thursday last week because of the holiday, so we will be referring back to our last article 2 weeks ago.

10. Minnesota Timberwolves (18-4) Previous Rank: N/A
​Last game: Defeated the Phoenix Suns 119-108
Next game: Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards
Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Jeff Teague have all shown there worth for a team looking to break the drought.

 

9. Philadelphia 76ers (11-8) Previous Rank: N/A
Last game: Lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91
​Next game: Wednesday against the Washington Wizards
J.J. Reddick continues to shine for this young team looking to make a statement in the East. Reddick made 8 three pointers against the Magic on Saturday.

 

8. Portland Trail Blazers (13-8) Previous Rank: N/A
​Last game: Defeated the New York Knicks 103-91
​Next game: Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks
A new big three seems to have emerged behind Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic who combined for 89 points in a win against the Nets. All three players had at least 25 points.

 

7. Toronto Raptors (12-7) Previous Rank: 6
​Last game: Defeated the Atlanta Hawks 112-78
​Next game: Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets
The offense is starting to click after outscoring Atlanta by 25 pts in the second period.

 

6. Cleveland Cavaliers (13-7) Previous Rank: 9
​Last game: Defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 113-91
​Next game: Tuesday against the Miami Heat
The Cavaliers have won 8 straight games and Lebron has a PER of 45.1 in the fourth quarter but the point guard position is still in question.

 

5. Detroit Pistons (13-6) Previous Rank: 4
​Last game: Defeated the Boston Celtics 118-108
Next game: Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns
The Pistons 12-6 start has been there best through 18 games since 2007-08 when they last made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

4. San Antonio Spurs (13-7) Previous Rank: 5
​Last game: Defeated the Dallas Mavericks 115-108
Next game: Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzles
In Tony Parkers debut after tearing his quad in the playoffs he had 6 pts and 4 assists. Last season he averaged 10 PPG which was the lowest since his rookie year.

 

3. Golden State Warriors (15-6) Previous Rank: 1
​Last game: Lost to the Sacramento Kings 110-106
Next game: Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers
Surprisingly enough the Warriors seem to do better without KD on the court winning two consecutive games by a combined 64 pts.

 

2. Houston Rockets (16-4) Previous Rank: 2
​Last game: Defeated the Brooklyn Nets 117-103
​Next game: Wednesday against the Indianapolis Pacers
With CP3 back the Rockets have been 5-0 with those wins coming by an average of 18.8 points.

 

1. Boston Celtics (18-4) Previous Rank: 3
​Last game: Lost to the Detroit Pistons 118-108
​Next game: Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers
The Celtics have been great on defense and being led by a young star in Kyrie Irving the offense will soon be hard to stop.

Cross-Court Cavs: The Streak Continues

Another week and the streak is still on for the Cavs. The club has continued its solid play both on the road and at home, racking up a 7 game win streak in the process. This week, they took on three solid teams and took care of business right from the start in all three games. It was an exciting week as this team looks to be on a roll with no one stopping them.

The first match-up of the week came in Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, where the Pistons played host to the hot Cavaliers. Despite Detroit sitting atop the Eastern Conference, the Cavs didn’t let the record get to them, and took care of business right away. A solid offensive attack, with 6 different players scoring in double digits, and heavy defensive pressure caused numerous Piston turnovers, and allowed the Cavs to get out on the break. The “run and gun” game worked well for the visitors, as they pulled away in the end and took the 116-88 victory with ease.

After a huge win in the motor city, the team headed back to the Land for a quick 2 game homestand, with the first game against the struggling Brooklyn Nets. This game turned out to be much closer than anticipated, as the Nets kept making runs at the Cavs shaky leads, but it was the leadership of LeBron James that took over in the end to seal the deal. His 33 points led the way down the stretch and helped keep the streak alive with a 119-109 victory.

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In the week’s finale, the Cavaliers welcomed in the Charlotte Hornets before hitting the road once again. This was the closest game of the week, and arguably the most exciting. The back and forth contest was led by the two stars from both sides, Kemba Walker for Charlotte and LeBron James for the Cavs. The duel came all the way down to the wire, when a missed Walker three point sent the Cavs on the road with a 100-99 victory in what was the closest call the Cavs have had up to this point.

Overall, this week and this streak has been something that has made Cleveland happy. The Cavs are thriving, and the season looks like it is headed in the right direction, especially with the highly anticipated return of PG Isaiah Thomas coming soon. With the team this hot, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the fun.

The Problems With The Clippers (6-11); No, It’s Not Chris Paul

After a heavy off-season of free-agent departures, trades, and signings, the Los Angeles Clippers came into the 2017-2018 NBA season with big expectations. Unfortunately, the Clippers are off to a horriblly rough start to the season despite being the last team in the NBA to be undefeated. After the 4-0 start including a game-winning 3-point shot from PF Blake Griffin against the Portland Trailblazers, the Clippers followed it with a 2-11 record in 13 games. The last game being a 116-103 road win over the Atlanta Hawks.

There are many problems that the Clippers are experiencing within 17 games of this NBA season. Although it is still early to determine a team’s actual worth, the Clippers are feeling pressure especially with the big off-season departure of 9-time NBA All-Star PG in Chris Paul through an off-season trade to the Houston Rockets. On November 20th, the Clippers showed their latest set of weaknesses against the 10-7 New York Knicks (9-7 at the time) with an embarrassing 107-85 loss in Madison Square Garden.

 

1. Once again, key injuries play a part in the Clippers’ losses

Head Coach Doc Rivers, the players, and Clipper Nation were ecstatic of the acquisition of great younger veterans to this year’s squad. PG Patrick Beverley, SG Lou Williams, SF Danilo Gallinari, C Willie Reed, and PG Milos Teodosic were all great additions to the team in terms of production to help further the team in Western Conference playoffs. Unfortunately, injuries have once again taken place for the Clippers this season with Milos Teodosic suffering a plantar fasciitis in the 2nd game of the season. Danilo suffering a glute injury in the 9th game of the season. Both Teodosic and Gallinari are due back soon but unsure when. As for Patrick Beverley, after missing 5 games with a sore knee, he started and played 22 minutes in the game against the Knicks where he was the only starter with a positive scoring outcome rate. Beverley will be out for the season after suffering a microfracture knee injury in his knee and having surgery.

With these injuries, especially at the Point Guard position, the Clippers have been mismatching their players in ball control. SG Austin Rivers replaced Teodosic as the starter as one of the main ball-handlers in the 1st team. With 5 games of Beverley out, rookie SG Sindarius Thornwell was given the #2 spot with Austin at the main Point Guard position. Rivers is an electrifying playmaker but not from the PG position. PF Blake Griffin has also been key on handling the ball and holding it more by setting the plays and driving more. L.A. has also given rookie PG Jawun Evans more a role to give more a pure PG performance. Evans played 19 minutes (season high) in the matchup against the Knicks and accounted for 4 points (2-for-8 on FG’s) and 2 steals.

This where Doc Rivers must find a valuable solution to the Point Guard position without making his players uncomfortable. Star Bench player in SG Lou Williams started his first game of the season in the win against the Hawks but this leaves less scoring potential from the Bench. While SF Wesley Johnson has been a surprise as a starter in recent games, consistency in production is the key. Time will tell if the Clippers will add more talent to these injuries or wait for Gallinari and Teodosic to hopefully come back and provide more impact.

 

2. The lack of effort is definitely visible

Through this short NBA season, the Clippers have had trouble in easily winnable games due to their effort levels. One example is C DeAndre Jordan where he is currently 2nd in the NBA in rebounds per game with 13.7 rebounds per game but has experienced 4 games during the 1-11 losing streak that he has accounted for less than 10 rebounds. This is just one of the biggest ways the Clippers have been slacking in the past 12 games. Some roles have not been properly met by each of the Clippers players during the 1-11 game skid.

There was a player’s only meeting after the 3rd loss in a row in the 120-107 road game to the San Antonio Spurs. After the Knicks loss, Patrick Beverley called out his team in order to put forth more effort that it was unacceptable. The lack of energy is notable against the Knicks where the Clippers were frustrated in not only the direction of the team but their performance. Late in the 4th quarter, Blake Griffin received two fouls in one play and was fouled out where he sat on the bench and looked frustrated. If the Clippers want to account for more wins, they will need to take a game one step at a time and step up their effort level.

 

3. Inconsistency in scoring & defending the 3-point game

The Los Angeles Clippers have experienced a lot of situations involving the 3-point perimeter this season. Losing PG Chris Paul, SG Jamal Crawford, and SG J.J. Redick hurts their offense in terms of consistent shooting. They also were very efficient in defending the 3-point arc last season. This season, the Clippers started out strong in defending the opponent’s perimeter shooting but have since declined intensely. Before their victory against the Atlanta Hawks, the Clippers were ranked 22nd in the league in 3-point shooting percentage (.349%) and 16th in opposing 3-point percentage (.368%). In a league where the Clippers share the Pacific Division with the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers must be able to fast and efficient in scoring 3’s and be able to defend consistently.

Last Monday night against the Knicks, the Clippers were 31.3% from the 3-point perimeter while allowing 38.2%. Most of the missed shots the Knicks took was in garbage time where the game was decided with 5 minutes left. Knicks SG Doug McDermott was huge in the game against L.A. where he accounted for 16 total points while making 5 of his 7 shots from behind the arc. PF Kristaps Porzingis was excellent in every phase of the game including the 3-point shot. Even though he only was only 2 for 7 from behind the arc, the two shots were daggers that came during the Clippers’ few comebacks. Los Angeles will have to defend the 3-point shooting better if they want success this season.

 

4. Blake Griffin trying to be the total workforce of the team

Losing PG Chris Paul not only took the leadership of the team but also the incredible playmaking ability that made a 9-time NBA All-Star. The Clippers didn’t need to replace his talent as an overall Point Guard but find a player of the same impact in scoring. When the Clippers resigned Blake Griffin, they made a statement that Griffin is the leader and most reliable scorer. Griffin was given more control of the ball and more of a voice on offense instead of being an alley-oop dunker. While Griffin has been incredible in most games, the Clippers do show a constant habit of Griffin pressing hard towards the basket. This was something that the New York Knicks saw and took into perspective when facing against Griffin.

Although Griffin accounted for 21 points, Porzingis and the Knicks defense forced Griffin to rush his shot selection and his overall shooting. Griffin went 6-for-18 on field goal percentage, 2-for-7 from behind the arc, accounted for 4 turnovers and was fouled out late in the 4th quarter. The Clippers often had Griffin crash into the paint and push hard to the basket with either Porzingis guarding him efficiently or had Griffin in a very uncomfortable double team. The Knicks did the same thing to C DeAndre Jordan by holding him early in the game. With SF Danilo Gallinari injured, the Clippers offense seems to be predictable in terms of where the ball is going. Until they get more help by a new veteran or have Gallinari or Teodosic come back from injury, the Clippers will need to spread the ball around more and build some players like SG Sindarius Thornwell, SF Sam Dekker, and PF Montrezl Harrell.

 

5. Head Coach Doc Rivers is on getting on the hot seat

Anytime you have a 6-11 record, it is not going to be enjoyable. If that team is a predicted playoff team and has experienced a 1-11 streak in 12 games before a win against a 3-17 Atlanta Hawks team, then there will be some serious questions. Fans were divided with Head Coach Doc Rivers before the season because of the drama between Rivers and Chris Paul. With the huge big streak happening, more fans on jumping on the train for the Clippers to remove Doc as the Head Coach. It seems like this season that Rivers is trying something new in his coaching style but it has only resulted in a 6-11 record. The other problems with the Clippers are that they can be easily fixed but has not so far.

Of the 14 biggest stats in the NBA, the Clippers are only average or above in 4 of them. This means that the Clippers are below average in 10 other major categories in the NBA. Los Angeles is tied for 12th in rebounds per game (45) because of Griffin and Jordan, 13th in opposing field goal percentage (.455%), tied for 9th in steal per game (8.3) – which will decrease with Beverley out for the season, and 15th in turnovers per game (14.8).

Through the first 4 games of the season, the Clippers were 1st in the league in points allowed per game but now the Clippers are 19th in points allowed per game (106.6). They are struggling on offense with their predictability, injuries, and consistency through players like SG Austin Rivers and SF Wesley Johnson. The Clippers have also been sloppy in the simplest things in plays both on offense and defense. This is something that revolves around Doc Rivers because there has been no positive change or result in a change. It seems rather ignored when dealing with this issues, this has resulted in the 1-11 streak in 12 games. Doc has also been shown to argue with referees and not talk to his team and guide them on the next play or goals throughout the game. If the Clippers continue to struggle, there may need to be changed in the organization either after the NBA All-Star break or after the season.

 

Final statement

Clipper Nation is not happy with the multiple losses and wants a change to happen one way or another either through more talent or through the firing of Head Coach Doc Rivers. The collapse of the Clippers is not something that is based on the departure of Chris Paul but rather the internal problems with the team. This is something that can be easily fixed by the team throughout the season. While the loss of PG Patrick Beverley will hurt tremendously, they will press forward especially with Gallinari and Teodosic coming back from injuries.

It is only a matter of time before changes are made of some significance during the season. Acquiring a veteran through free agency or trade might be a way to go. The players for the Clippers have a ton of devotion to the organization so don’t departures like this past offseason where 10 players left. Luckily there have been other teams in the Western Conference that have experienced injuries, so L.A. will have a chance with other injured teams. The Clippers cannot afford to lose more games on a consistent basis if they want to get into the playoffs. There is still a lot of games left for Los Angeles but the energy needs to be more intensified if they want to remain relevant.

Cross-Court Cavs: Undefeated Week

After a strong week previously, the Cavs kept the charge going this week, posting a 3-0 record against solid competition. They had a short two game road trip and then came back to pick up a win in The Land. It was a great week for a team that is showing numerous signs of improvement.

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The week kicked off on Monday at the mecca of all basketball arenas in Madison Square Garden in downtown New York City. The Cavs took on an improved Knicks team that came in on a roll, but didn’t shy away from the pressure. The domination of LeBron James throughout the contest and the 4th quarter magic of Kyle Korver led the comeback charge, as the Cavs snuck out of the Garden with a 104-101 victory in an exciting start to the week.

After the key win against the Knicks, the Cavs headed out to Charlotte to take on the Hornets in a Wednesday night clash. The dunk show put on by the King was the star of the show as he poured in 31 points, and was complemented nicely by Kevin Love’s 22 of his own.  It was a close one, going back and forth throughout, but the continuous Cavalier runs shut down “the hive” with a 115-107 victory.

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With two straight victories under their belt, the team headed back home to conclude the week with a Friday night contest against the new face Clippers. The LA squad has gotten off to a rough start this season, so the Cavs had a perfect opportunity to sneak in another win, and they did just that. LeBron led the charge with 39 points, and as the game came down to the wire, he took over. The game went into overtime, and Lebron, along with some help from Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love, put the Cavs ahead and they pulled away for a 118-113 victory.

This week was a great confidence builder for the Cavs, as now they are starting to move back into the playoff picture. The team is starting to find its core, and everyone is starting to fill into place.  It is a stretch we have come to expect for the Cavs, and more of the same is hopefully soon to come for the squad.

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