Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers
7:30 p.m. PST
April 16, 2014
1. Are Paul-Griffin and Lillard-Aldridge the two best point guard-power forward combinations in the NBA?
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): This seems like a no-brainer, though Tony Parker and Tim Duncan should probably be in the conversation. They’ve been so good for so long, and it’s hard to ignore them considering that whole best-regular-season-team-in-
Seth Partnow, (@WhrOffnsHppns): Paul and Griffin are definitely the best pairing unless Tim Duncan counts as a power forward. I’m not as high on Lillard as some so I don’t think Portland’s duo is on that level, but he and Aldridge are comfortably in the second tier of combos with Conley-Randolph, Curry-Lee and Westbrook-Ibaka.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): No. But it’s close. Paul and Griffin are probably the best combination right now, but there are two Hall of Famers in San Antonio (if you consider one of them a power forward) who are leaps and bounds ahead of Lillard and Aldridge. The Portland combo could only be in the top two if you decide you’re treating this video game style: no defense, no problem.
2. Should the Clippers gun for the No. 2 seed tonight?
James: Whether they should or not is kind of immaterial. Blake Griffin is taking a league-mandated night off for his Barnesian, after-the-whistle swipe at the ball/Timofey Mozgov’s head. J.J. Redick is resting because he’s still easing back into rhythm, and there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs, so it’s not worth playing him tonight. It looks like they’ll be prioritizing health over seeding.
Partnow: Due to the vagaries of the schedule, the Clippers will know if that’s even a possibility either by or shortly after tip off, and further whether gaining the second seed would have them play Memphis or Dallas. Of course, even if it is possible to get the No. 2 seed, we already know Griffin and JJ Redick are not traveling, so it will be a short-handed squad. I know I didn’t answer the question, but do we really think Detroit is going to win in Oklahoma City?
Katz: Tonight’s motto: Play hard, but play no one. We’ll leave it at that.
3. It’s the last game of the regular season. What’s the most important thing to look for in tonight’s game?
James: The lineups! Who’s even playing in this game? The Blazers are locked into the No. 5 seed regardless of what happens tonight, so resting their starters isn’t inconceivable. And as we said, the Clippers will be without Redick and Griffin, as well as Danny Granger and potentially Chris Paul. It could have all the sloppy energy of a pre-season game.
Partnow: Don’t get hurt. Avoid injuries. Don’t get into fights and thus incur suspensions. DO NOT GET CHRIS PAUL OR DEANDRE JORDAN HURT. To be honest, if OKC wins, wrap DJ and CP3 in a fine layer of gauze and play Reggie Bullock, Ryan Hollins and Willies Green 35+ minutes each.
Katz: Well, there are a couple. Does DeAndre Jordan continue his best-in-the-NBA consecutive games streak or does he get his first night off in years? Does Willie J. Green continue his being-the-ultimate-professional streak? Which one ends first? Do we have to wait until next year to find out? This is why we play 82 games, people. This is where the magic happens.