Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors
Air Canada Centre
4:00 p.m. PST
January 25, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. What has changed in Toronto since the Rudy Gay trade?
Jacob Frankel, (@jacob_frankel): Rudy Gay was using a lot of possessions very inefficiently. Those possessions have been redistributed to a number of other players who can use them in much better ways.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): Kyle Lowry has been allowed to take over the Toronto offense and the team has responded. Gay’s patented long 2s (though he’s eliminated a bunch of those in Sacramento) aren’t there anymore and offense has run more efficiently because of that. Add in how much Greivis Vasquez has helped with the bench lineups (he may be the best backup point guard in the NBA) and this has become the third-best team in the East.
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): Well they traded for a volume scorer with a propensity for a mid-range shot he’s not particularly proficient at. I kid because trading for Gay last season was supposed to vault Toronto into the list of respectable Eastern teams. Instead, trading him away has redistributed his shots towards Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan has been improved lately as the primary wing threat and the combination of players Toronto received in return are actual useful rotation guys.
2. The Clippers are 7-3 since the Chris Paul injury? How have they remained so successful without him?
Frankel: This comes to Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick. Griffin’s averaged 25.5 points 5.3 assists per 36 minutes without Paul. His oft-overlooked talents as a distributor are on full display. Redick is at 21.6 points per 36 without Paul, and his off ball movement has been integral in keeping the offense flowing.
Katz: J.J. Redick’s return shouldn’t be ignored. The offense has been tremendous since Redick came back from his fractured wrist on Jan. 10. The playbook has opened up. The floor is spaced better. There’s more motion. Everything is just a little bit better. Also, let’s not ignore the fact that Blake Griffin is pretty darn good.
Han: Blake Griffin is good enough to carry a respectable team. That combined with Redick’s off-ball movement and sharp shooting and DeAndre Jordan’s defensive improvements, and the Clippers should be competitive enough most nights. Paul’s effects are most felt in late game situations and managing the inevitable dry spells.
3. Should Chris Paul have been an All-Star starter?
Frankel: No. He’s only been slightly better than Stephen Curry, and when you factor in Paul’s injury, Curry has contributed more to his team overall.
Katz: Yes. It’s pretty clear Paul deserved a starting spot over Kobe Bryant and aside from Steph Curry, there haven’t been any other Western Conference guards who can hold a candle to Paul’s 2013-14 performance, even though he’s played only 34 games.