Los Angeles Clippers vs. Boston Celtics
7:30 p.m. PST
January 8, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Who won the Jerryd Bayless for Courtney Lee deal?
Michael Pina, CelticsHub, (@MichaelVPina): Boston is beyond thrilled to get rid of Courtney Lee’s contract. Exchanging it for a younger, cheaper, arguably better player makes the trade even sweeter for them. Memphis needs shooting, and Lee is shooting it very well this season. But they aren’t winning anything of consequence this season, and tacking on Lee won’t help now or down the line.
Luke Laubhan, (@lukelaubhan): Probably the Celtics, although I like Lee as a player better than Bayless. Lee was a relatively pricey luxury for a team that’s more interested in the lottery than making the Finals. To that end, Bayless is cheaper and a sneaky, not unhelpful downgrade for Boston.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): Too early to tell but in a conference where nearly every team is in no man’s land, it looks like the Celtics. If Rondo returns in the next few weeks and Boston makes up the one-game difference keeping them out of the playoffs, I don’t think they lose much in the way of talent with Bayless in the place of Lee. If they fall apart, shedding Lee’s contract allows them more flexibility in the trade market and this summer in free agency.
2. Who is the Celtics’ best player?
Pina: Rajon Rondo, obviously. But of those who’re actually playing, answering who’s best is somewhat of a nightly toss up. A few weeks ago the standard response was Jared Sullinger, but an ailing wrist has limited the second year forward’s effectiveness. Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, and Brandon Bass have all improved in various areas and been consistent on both ends (for the most part), but Sullinger is probably still the right answer.
Laubhan: Uncle Jeff. He’s not Boston’s liveliest shooter (Jordan Crawford), best defender (Avery Bradley), most utilitarian (Brandon Bass), most seasoned (Gerald Wallace), or stockiest player (Jared Sullinger), but Green’s the one Celtic who can do almost anything well in bursts. Put another way, with Rondo out, Green is the only guy who inspires concern in opposing fans. Mild concern, but concern nonetheless.
Sohi: In the absence of Rondo, Jeff Green has morphed into something of a jack of all trades. He’s not going to be everything for the Celtics—he’s an improved passer from last season but it’s still a weak point for him— but he’s leading the C’s in scoring and his tweener status has filled necessary holes on a nightly basis.
3. What Celtics’ weakness do the Clippers have the best chance to exploit?
Pina: The Clippers score 18.8 points off turnovers per game, good for fourth highest in the league. The Celtics allow 17.6 points per game off turnovers, good for eighth worst. Boston turns it over a ton, and Los Angeles is very good at turning turnovers into points (even without Chris Paul on the floor).
Laubhan: On back-to-backs this season, Boston shoots 42.7 percent and averages 90.9 points per game, roughly 3 percent and 4.5 points fewer than on nights following just one day’s rest. It’s hard enough for an East Coast team to travel west and play the Clippers on the hard end of a back-to-back, but last night the Celtics spent 48 minutes chasing the Nuggets in the thin Rocky Mountain air. Boston should be gassed. L.A. should run.
Sohi: Interior size. Brad Stevens has his team defending the right areas but with the Clippers’ backcourt out of commission, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will have to step up consistently throughout this stretch. The duo could potentially bully (or jump over top of) Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger.