Los Angeles Clippers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
7:30 p.m. PST
January 16, 2015
ESPN/FOX Prime Ticket
Video of the Day
When push comes to shove…
1. Who’s more likely to put it all together before the playoffs: the Clippers or the Cavaliers?
William Bohl, Fear the Sword, (@BreakTheHuddle): The Clippers. The infrastructure is already in place; they have an experienced coach and the stars are familiar with one another. The Cavaliers may put it together eventually, but not in the next three months.
Law Murray, (@LawMurrayTheNU): The Cavaliers. They actually have something to have to put together. The Clippers are limited to their top six guys, the players who were there last season. They are what they are, and that is a team that is more or less on last season’s pace. Cleveland is underachieving in a big way with significant changes to the roster, and they have the most overhyped coach in the league, but the talent is there to get to the playoffs, where the game changes obviously.
J.D. Evans: The Clippers, easily. The coach has a great starting five, one great bench player, one to two bench players who should be playing better, and the respect of the entire league. The Cavs could be starting four guys who weren’t with the team at the end of last season, some mercurial bench guys, and seem to have their coach. On the other hand, even if the Clips get it together, they can get bounced in the first round. Even right now there are only three teams in the East who threaten Cleveland.
2. Is Timofey Mozgov the answer to the Cavaliers defensive woes?
Bohl: He’s not THE answer, but he’s AN answer. Their biggest problems have been pick and roll defense and rim protection – this helps half of that equation.
Murray: He’s not THE answer, but I think he’s a part of the solution. Mozgov blocked 100 shots last season, and Cleveland hasn’t had a player block 100 shots since 2007-2008. The Cavaliers have more issues than that though. The Cavaliers aren’t very good at forcing turnovers, and they are only an average rebounding team. Mozgov is a solid rebounder, but he fouls too much to stay on the floor for 30 minutes.
Evans: If he’s the answer, then the Cavaliers were never that woeful. But of course they are. His size is good for the team, more athleticism would be even better, but mostly they need a good scheme. And they need the players to accept and execute that scheme.
3. Remove your Coach Doc hat and put on your GM Doc hat; now the team’s got Dahntay Jones and Austin Rivers, what’s your next move?
Bohl: The Clippers still need a big, right? They’re allowing the 6th-highest opponent field goal percentage inside the restricted area. I wonder what it would take to pry Ian Mahinmi away from Indiana…
Murray: Well, here’s the thing. I’m not sure Rivers is an upgrade over Jared Cunningham, and Jordan Farmar may be on his way out. Jones is 34 years old and on a 10-day contract; he’s this year’s Stephen Jackson. Chris Douglas-Roberts was traded. Spencer Hawes is Byron Mullens. The Clippers are looking to do the same thing they did last winter: keep their eye out on the buyout list.