L.A. Clippers at Cleveland Cavaliers
Quicken Loans Arena
March 1, 2013
4:30 p.m. PST
FOX Prime Ticket
The first time the Clippers and Cavaliers met, it didn’t turn out pretty for the Clips. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters combined to sink 11 threes and the Cavs walked out of the Staples Center with a 108-101 victory. But L.A. heads into Cleveland hot, having won seven of its past eight games, and surely has revenge on its mind. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. Every player in the NBA has been released from his respective team and you’ve been selected to start a new franchise. Who’s your point guard? Kyrie Irving or Chris Paul?
Amin Vafa, Hardwood Paroxysm, (@AminNBA): Oh, man. This is a tough question. I guess I’ll have to say Irving if I’m starting a new franchise. He’s younger, and the rest of the (presumably) young team can grow around him. A right-now contender? Paul.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): This is easy. Kyrie Irving is great, better than great actually. But Chris Paul has crafted the gold standard for what the 21st century point guard should strive to be, in that he should give priority to his X-ray vision but at the same time be willing – and able – to do everything else. This may be an achievable feat for Kyrie, but I’ll take the proven commodity.
Jordan Heimer, (@jordanheimer): Sacrilege, I know: I’d take Kyrie. CP3 is the gold standard, but Kyrie – the young PG whose game most resembles Paul’s – is 7 years younger and not far behind. Kyrie recently credited his habitually dominant fourth-quarter play to “remembering” earlier defense sets and “exploiting” them in crunch time. That kind of heady player is a good bet to reach – or exceed – already lofty projections.
2. Dion Waiters went for 28 when the Cavs came to the Staples Center. Do the Clippers contain him tonight?
Vafa: I think they have to, especially since Irving’s probably not playing tonight. If they successfully close off Waiters’s passing lanes and prevent him from scoring, it’ll be hard for the Cavs to do anything on offense.
Sohi: The amount of points Waiters scores isn’t of consequence. It’s about how he gets there. He embodies the Cavs in that he’s a chaotic mess that occasionally gives us a glimpse of a better future. If the question is reworded to “Does Waiters go 7-11 from beyond the arc again?”, the answer is probably not.
Heimer: There are two ways a second-rate perimeter guy can score 28. 1. He’s dipped in boomshakala and his every prayer is answered. That happens. 2. Lazy defense early possessions. Half-hearted shows on the pick-and-roll, substituting matador waves for good footwork against the slippery Irving or failing to pick up shooters in transition: the paint gets compromised, the D collapses in a panic, leaving shooters alone on the perimeter. Clips need to do their work early.
3. Do the Clips even the season series against Cleveland?
Vafa: The Q is a pretty intimidating place to play, and the Cavs have been playing better since the midseason trade with the Grizzles. But with no Irving and the Clippers keen on avenging an early-season loss, I don’t think that even the Cavs’ recent strong play against Toronto and Chicago could help them out tonight. The Clips should take this one.
Sohi: Yes. The Clippers are rolling, winning seven of their last eight games. Not to mention Kyrie Irving’s status for the game is still up in the air. Regardless, it’s unlikely they’d allow the Cavs to surprise them again. After handing the Clippers one of their six home losses this season, Cleveland should be ready for LA to return the favor.