Los Angeles Clippers (41-22) vs New York Knicks (27-39)
7:30 p.m. PST
March 11, 2016
1. Did Wednesday’s loss to OKC all but guarantee the Clippers will finish 4th in the West?
Sareen Tavidian (@sarenetavidian): Statistically, it’s not a guarantee. However, with less than eighteen games remaining I believe the standings will stay as they currently are with the Los Angeles Clippers likely going up against the Golden State Warriors in the second round.
Brandon Tomyoy (@dingyu): I wouldn’t go as far as to guarantee it, considering that the Thunder have a more difficult schedule to finish the season than the Clippers do, but it certainly doesn’t do them any favors. The likelihood of the Clippers finishing as the 4th seed, however, is indeed greater than them finishing ahead of OKC and nabbing that third seed — especially when they also own the division record tiebreaker by a wide margin.
Michael Shagrin (@mshaggy): Never say never but that’s the most likely scenario. Both teams have rather unforgiving schedules with a ton of matchups against the league’s best so OKC’s two game advantage in the loss column appears pretty safe. But who knows? Would anybody have predicted the Thunder to be 4-6 after the All-Star break? The only unshakeable truths seem to be at the top of the Western Conference standings where Steph is going to Steph and the Spurs are going to Spur.
2. How’s Kurt Rambis handling the coaching duties so far? Will he be the Knicks’ man next year?
Tavidian: Kurt Rambis’ past coaching experience has given him the ability to handle the duties that come with the New York Knicks organization. It’s hard to tell what they may decide for next year, however, unless Phil Jackson wants a puppet running the triangle, I don’t think the New York Knicks should hang on to Rambis.
Tomyoy: With the Knicks falling further out of the playoff race, his stint as the interim head coach has not been a ringing endorsement for him to be brought back next season. Perhaps the most maddening aspect of it all though would be his reluctance to allow players to play through mistakes and learn from them. This is especially the case with his handling of Kristaps Porzingis, who needs that time on the floor if he is indeed part of the foundation the Knicks’ future will be built on.
Shagrin: Wait, Kurt Rambis is the coach of the Knicks? I thought it was that other guy yelling at Carmelo from a courtside seat at the Garden. He at least seems to be on better terms with ownership than Rambis. These ambiguous relations probably don’t bode well for Kurt’s long term tenure.
3. Between the two bench swingman of Derrick Williams and Wesley Johnson, who’s had the more disappointing career?
Tavidian: Definitely Derrick Williams. Coming out of Arizona and a deep final four tournament run, there were real high hopes for his impact in the NBA – similar to Blake Griffin. Wesley Johnson was a lottery pick and more was expected out of Williams, which turned out to be a disappointment.
Tomyoy: In terms of success, both players have lacked it on both an individual and team level, but that’s largely if you’re rating them based on statistical value and win-loss. Wesley Johnson gets the slight nod in this area because he’s likely to make his first trip to the playoffs with the Clippers this season, but in the case of both players, it does appear they’ve found something with their current teams in terms of a role and environment that is complimentary to them. Derrick Williams has been a vital member of the Knicks bench, and Johnson has more than capably filled in as an important contributor on both ends of the floor this season for LAC.
Shagrin: Derrick Williams probably because he was such an exciting college specimen. But let’s not overvalue the blundering play of Wesley Johnson who always seems to process the game about a half of a second slower than anyone else on the court. Each of these disappointments have helped shape the paragon of draft day faux pas in the modern 3-and-D era. So congrats on that!