The Los Angeles Clippers hosted the Denver Nuggets Friday night at Staples Center to kick off the 2015-2016 NBA preseason:
Some other thoughts from this game:
– Paul Pierce started at small forward, while Wesley Johnson had a chance to mix in. From head coach Doc Rivers to PF Blake Griffin, multiple members of the team are well aware that Pierce fits the starting corps better right now than Johnson. Griffin said that Johnson doesn’t know the offense as well as Pierce; it’s clear what Johnson will have to do to stay on track for a 25-minute role.
– Speaking of veterans – excuse me for jumping ahead, but this team loves PG Pablo Prigioni. He just knows how to play, as Jamal Crawford alluded to at shootaround, and it will be interesting to see what happens with the backup PG spot.
– Next transition: Austin Rivers and Lance Stephenson may be too similar on offense for them to be on the floor together. And that’s before you get to an unideal start for the pairing.
Lance told Austin to make the pass, then walked away instead of helping his teammate up. pic.twitter.com/r7Zsfs16c1
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) October 3, 2015
Lance was upset after Rivers didn’t pass him the ball there on the 2-on-1. Started to walk away from picking him up off the ground. — Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) October 3, 2015
– I’m not saying coaches should cuff their social media teams, but I don’t think this hashtag is in Doc Rivers’ plans for Stephenson:
Lance does his dance — putting his defender on skates then drains the jumper. 😳😳😳#MakeEmDanceLance
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) October 3, 2015
– Doc Rivers pretty much admitted that the team doesn’t have plans to utilize the D-League this season. So many teams have a single affiliate, and Rivers makes a good point about sending a player to a D-League team that is ran by another NBA team. That’s not ideal for 2nd-year SG C.J. Wilcox (who entered the game in the 4th quarter, 13th player to see the floor) or rookie PF Branden Dawson (who didn’t play at all Friday night). It’s a disadvantage for the Clippers. There’s no semblance of a player development plan here. It would be a mild surprise to me if Wilcox and Dawson were both here by Halloween.
– A guy who may be here is PF Luc Mbah a Moute. He was the 12th guy on the floor for the Clippers, and after speaking with him before the game, it sounds like he genuinely expects to be on the roster this season. He had 4 points, 3 rebounds, and a block in about 4.5 minutes before losing a tooth on Nuggets PF Joffrey Lauvergne’s head.
– (Insert preseason disclaimer) The Clippers’ defensive activity was exceptional to start the game. Emmanuel Mudiay had a forgettable preseason debut, shooting 5-for-18 from the field and turning the ball over 8 times. The Clippers had 12 steals in all, 4 of them from Austin Rivers. Rivers barely averages a steal every 2 games for his career; consistency on defense from the second unit is something Doc Rivers will need to see improvement from this month.
– With C Cole Aldrich out with a minor ankle sprain, PF Josh Smith got plenty of run at center. Results were mixed, considering the rest of the small lineup included Johnson, Stephenson, and two other guards. Smoove yammed on Nuggets C Nikola Jokic something nasty, but the Clippers were destroyed on the boards when Jordan was out of the game; the Nuggets were +18 in rebounds for the game. Lauvergne in particular had a strong night with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
– Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has his work cut out for him. It’s the right move to put the team in Mudiay’s hands and have him push the pace. But the rest of the roster is composed of most of the same veterans who were on last year’s 30-win team. It’s a crowded roster, one where other young guys like Gary Harris, Will Barton (12/13 off the bench), Lauvergne, and injured C Jusuf Nurkic face unclear roles to start the season.
– Jordan on what’s new this season: “Well, we have new uniforms…”
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