Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers
6:30 p.m. PT
Prime Ticket and League Pass
KFWB 980 AM
1. Bigger surprise: Portland at 3-0 or Clippers at 1-2?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Portland at 3-0. It’s not just the fact they’re winning, but how they’re winning — the Blazers are fourth in Offensive Efficiency and Defensive Efficiency. Nate McMillian’s squads have a penchant for slow, grind-it-out basketball … but not this one. In a break from the norm, Portland has finally become a running team, good for fourth in the league in pace (averaging 101.2 possessions per game). Put bluntly, they’re blowing people out of the gym.
Mark Shore, ClipperBlog: Portland at 3-0. They were facing adversity before the season even began by losing Brandon Roy to retirement not too long after he looked revitalized in a playoff series against the eventual champs. Moreover, they had to play their first three games of the season in four nights. It’s tough for any team to come out unscathed after that stretch.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Portland. Lob City won’t be built in a day. Three weeks ago, VDN was drawing up plays for Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon. Turning what us essentially a brand new team into a cohesive unit doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how elite the talent is. So losses to Chicago and in San Antonio can’t be considered that surprising.
The preseason talk surrounding the Blazers was all injuries, early retirement, and chaos in the front office. Their crisp start has been impressive.
2. The Clippers’ defense is last in the NBA statistically because …
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: I couldn’t fit the grocery list of reasons why they’re bad at defense into a coherent paragraph of 60 to 70 words. However, I’ll say this — they don’t box out or rebound well, their pick-and-roll defense is abysmal and their rotations are dysfunctional at best (probably a reflection of their lack of time together). They’re undersized, not deep and kind of slow too. You get the picture?
Mark Shore, ClipperBlog: Nick Flynt says so. There are a lot of issues to talk about but I’ll stick with the problems on the glass. The Clippers are being outrebounded by an average of more than 10 boards a game and gave up 15 and 17 offensive rebounds to Chicago and Golden State respectively. Those lead to easy 2nd-chance points and throw your defense out of rhythm.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Oh man, take your pick: no speed on the perimeter; botched rotations; a troubling inability to box out or secure rebounds; slow (or non existent) close-outs on three-point shooters; lack of effort.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Clippers will be at .500 on Monday morning.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Fact. They’re due for some good luck. The Spurs and Bulls each turned a one possession game into a blowout through waves of 3-pointers and offensive rebounds. The Blazers are more athletic than either squad, but lack the same size and shooting ability. If the Clippers’ perimeter players can’t rebound against guys their own size, we may be in for a long season.
Mark Shore, ClipperBlog: Fact. The Trail Blazers are off to a hot start, but their first three wins came at home against teams that aren’t exactly the cream of the crop in the NBA (Philadelphia, Sacramento and Denver). Despite the loss, the Clippers kept Chicago within striking distance well into the 4th quarter and generally play much better at home (23-18 at home last year, 9-32 on the road).
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Fiction. A well coached team that can move the ball, clean the glass, and drain open jumpers? I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. And, of course, Rhino has a dominant homecoming.