Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Chris Paul appeared in his 82nd game of the season, and he made a season-high six threes (out of 11 attempts) to lead the Clippers with 22 points. Paul had “only” six assists to go with one turnover, and he finished his April regular season with 80 assists and seven turnovers.
That was … the season, pretty much: The Clippers had a 30-point lead. The bench embarrassed themselves. The starters had to finish the game. You’ve seen this story before. It’s the favorite part of games for everyone who recycles the “Doc the GM screwing Doc the coach” narrative. All that matters is that the starters got the job done – they’re more important than the bench.
X factor: Damn, it is time to worry about Matt Barnes again. Barnes had a relatively decent season overall, starting more than 60 games for the first time in his career even though Paul Pierce is the only starting SF who is older. But Barnes has a history of going cold in the postseason (especially when Lakers fans bring him up), and after a great March, his shot has left him again in April. Barnes missed all five threes tonight, and in seven games this month, Barnes is shooting 36 percent from the field and less than 23 percent from three. If he’s going to shoot so many threes (over six per game in April), he has to get that percentage back towards his season mark of 36 percent.
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
The Clippers bench is like when you only have one really good suit and you hope no one notices that you wear it to everything
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) April 15, 2015
— Mick Minas (@mminas8) April 15, 2015
And now Crawford has passed Pete Maravich for most career points
— Rowan Kavner (@RowanKavner) April 15, 2015
Correction: the biggest cheer of the night was when DeAndre Jordan missed two FTs to earn free chicken tenders for fans. #SunsVsClippers
— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) April 15, 2015
Check Your Messages
Matt Barnes, QB
Matt Barnes has gotten a lot of love lately, and deservedly so, but there’s one part of his game I haven’t seen anyone mention – his one-handed rocket passes.
It happens a couple times each night – Barnes will get a long-ish rebound, or snatch the ball immediately after an opponent make and quickly look upcourt. He’ll cock his arm back, reading the D like Peyton Manning, and uncork an insane strike, an Aaron Rodgers missile, a Yasiel Puig laser from right field into the open arms of Blake or DeAndre. Tonight he dropped one right into DeAndre’s breadbasket for the game’s opening bucket, a dunk. He also passed up an open three to fire a wicked seed cross-court to an even more open JJ Redick early in the third quarter. Sure, it doesn’t always work – it’s not exactly uncommon for some enterprising young free safety to read his eyes and pick it off, but that doesn’t make it any less delightful, and it fits perfectly with the Clipper bigs’ athleticism.
It’s a play almost no one else in the game makes, not quite as elegant but no less deadly than Kevin Love’s trademark break-starting bombs, and just another reason to love what Barnes brings to this team.
– Ben Mesirow
All things considered, the Clippers had a remarkable season. Barring an incredible performance by the Warriors on Wednesday night, the Clippers will finish the 2014-2015 season with the league’s most efficient offense. The team won 14 of their last 15 games. Despite all of the negative noise, the Clippers will finish only one game shy of last season’s record, and they won’t be lower than the third seed. Currently, the team is seeded second.
There is another milestone the team achieved: with tonight’s win, the Clippers finished 16-4 on the second night of back-to-backs this season. No team will finish with more wins or a higher win percentage in that scenario this season. In fact, the last team to finish with more wins on the second night of back-to-backs were the 2010-2011 Chicago Bulls.
Unfortunately, there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs. The focus will intensify on coach Doc Rivers in the playoffs, and the focus will intensify on the starting lineup. No five-man group will come close to the 1,217 minutes that L.A.’s starting lineup accumulated together this season. But considering how well the team played in games that you would think would be tougher due to their lack of depth, perhaps the Clippers have already shown that they can continue to hold up under potentially stressful circumstances.
– Law Murray