Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors
12:30 p.m. PST
December 27, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
Video of the Day
Kyle Lowry, more graceful than Rob Ford.
1. Is the Raptors’ (healthy) backcourt the best one in the NBA?
Seth Partnow, (@SethPartnow): Nah. DeMar DeRozan is one of those weird players who is simultaneously overrated and underrated and Kyle Lowry is comfortably among the top echelons of PG’s but Cleveland still has Dion Waiters, right?
J.D. Evans: Not even close. It is almost unique though—two All-Star guards who are roughly as good as each other. Many teams have one elite guard and one solid one. (The Warriors might have two elite ones.) It might be the most balanced, which is the Raptors’ theme song.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): No. Golden State and Chicago are definitively better. You could also argue that Washington, Dallas, San Antonio and the Clippers have guards who perform more. Lowry has turned himself into a surefire, top-seven point guard (if not better than that), but the occasional spacing issues DeRozan causes makes it easier to downgrade Toronto’s prowess.
2. Why is the Toronto offense so good?
Partnow: They don’t necessarily get the best shots (Toronto is dead last in percentage of field goal attempts potentially assisted, per SportVU), but they have guys who can make tough shots. They draw a lot of fouls. They hit the offensive glass. Perhaps most importantly, they are extremely good at not turning the ball over.
Evans: As the theme song goes, because it’s balanced. They have nine guys scoring about 8.0 points a game or more, and the team can run plays for at least six of them. Also, they play in the East. Toronto is a good team, but it’s hard to make judgments about teams who mainly play teams under 500.
Katz: It helps to have one of the best point guards in the NBA. The Toronto offense moves quickly and decisively. That’s part of why it’s third in second-chance points even though it’s eighth in offensive rebound rate. The Raps are wonderful at capitalizing when a defense gets caught out of position, even with DeRozan out. This isn’t a light Eastern Conference team. It knows how to score.
3. The Clippers are one game into a nine-game home stand. How many wins do they need during this stretch for it to be considered a success?
Partnow: About six. Though focusing on the wins isn’t really that important, or shouldn’t be. The process needs to improve, with some better bench play, more rebounding from Blake, and so on. You know, the things the team needs to do in April and May.
Evans: I’ll define success as ‘moving into the top four in the west,’ which is what a successful regular season would look like. To do that, they’ll probably have to win seven of nine. The games are well spaced out, and they’ve already beaten the best team of the lot, so it might even happen.
Katz: Seven or eight wins. The Clippers have five games they absolutely should win: Utah, New York, Philly, Miami and the Lakers. They already won their toughest game of the stretch against the Warriors. They should win one or two of the remaining three against Toronto, Atlanta and Dallas.