Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets
5:00 p.m. PST
February 25, 2015
FOX Prime Ticket/ ESPN
Video of the Day
Sorry Ricky, we had to play it again.
1. Will James Harden win MVP?
Michael Pina, (@MichaelVPina): Yes. He’s been the best basketball player in the world for a couple months now, and with Dwight Howard out, far and away the most important to his own team (among those that are actually good).
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): I thought it was looking that way earlier in the year, but with every passing day the award is looking more and more like Steph Curry’s to lose. He’s playing too well, and the Warriors just keep winning. Harden’s been great, though.
Brandon Tomyoy, (@dingyu): He’s absolutely the favorite to win it. If you want to judge by simple stats, he’s putting up averages of points, assists, and rebounds that have only been matched by Michael Jordan. If you want to judge it by advanced metrics, he tops the league in Value Over Replacement and Win Shares. His stiffest competition for the award is likely Stephen Curry, but Curry isn’t leading a team where its second star has only played 32 games. For those reasons, I’d have to believe James Harden should win the award.
2. Why does The Bearded One struggle so much against the Clippers?
Pina: Who knows? Maybe Harden’s nervous playing in front of his hometown crowd?
James: I think it’s some combination of bad luck, having to chase J.J. Redick off screens, and needing to deal Deandre Jordan when the Clippers show hard on their strong side defense. Mostly, though, I’d say it’s luck. Russell Westbrook had a history of awful games against L.A. his first few years — then at some point his bad play just sort of stopped.
Tomyoy: I don’t believe there can be too much stock put into an 18 game sample size, but trying to look for statistical reasons had me going down a rabbit hole I’m not sure I’ve been able to crawl back out of yet. He’s struggled historically against Chris Paul-lead teams — even when CP3 was a Hornet — and yet Chris doesn’t typically guard The Beard. He’s struggled against the Clippers even before the arrival of Chris, though in his defense, those were also earlier on his career. It’s happened against different players starting on for LAC, different defensive schemes, and through two head coaching regimes. With all that variation and such a limited game sampling, the best conclusion I can give is: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
3. What have the Clippers learnt in the absence of Griffin?
Pina: That Glen Davis may actually have some decent basketball left in his body, Chris Paul is still an unstoppable being, and they will be paying DeAndre Jordan a four or five-year max contract this summer.
James: They’ve learned that absent your best scorer, the ball needs to keep moving for their offense to click. (Let’s hope they remember this when Griffin returns.) They’ve also learned that Chris Paul really is as good as advertised in terms of perimeter defense — see Kirk Goldsberry’s masterful piece on that for more.