Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: For the second night in a row, Blake Griffin was the staircase to the opponent’s ED-209. He might have only played about 27 minutes, but it was all he needed to notch a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
That was … a relief: After a second quarter scuffle between Dirk Nowitzki and DeAndre Jordan that lead to three technical fouls called on one play, the Mavericks began to intentionally foul the Clippers’ center. Thankfully for viewers and Clippers fans alike, the game resulted in a blowout, and a three-hour hack-a-thon like many that were witnessed a season ago was avoided.
X factor: At the 3:00 mark of the third quarter, the Clippers substituted for their big three and left a five-man bench unit on the floor featuring Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson, and Paul Pierce. The bench would extend an 11-point lead to a 25-point blowout over the next seven-plus minutes.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Bold home opener banner choice by the Clippers. pic.twitter.com/xcXo90uDFs
— Andrew Han (@andrewthehan) October 30, 2015
"You can change the owner, you can change the players but the Clippers are who they've been for the past 30 yrs" – Mark Cuban
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) October 30, 2015
JJ was asked what emoji he would use to describe the game. I think he went with the 👀
— Rowan Kavner (@RowanKavner) October 30, 2015
Check Your Messages
Last year, the Clippers were known for their near-complete lack of depth. They were less known for their incredible proficiency in back-to-back games.
In short, no team was better than the Clippers’ 16-4 mark on the 2nd night of games with zero days of rest. Not the World Champion Warriors. Not the perennially deep Spurs. Not any of the teams in the admittingly smoother Eastern Conference.
To add to that piece, the Clippers’ starters had the night off tonight. Once Austin Rivers hit a big three to end the 3rd quarter, this game was spoken for. DeAndre Jordan got to sit out of 14 4th quarters last season; the Clippers were 12-2 in those games. There were a lot of games where he had to stay in a little bit because of how wretched L.A.’s second unit was, especially defensively.
The Clippers bench isn’t great yet. Great may be too high an expectation for this group. But there will be games that the Clippers shouldn’t need the starters to play much late. Last night in Sacramento should have been the first, but the team will take this one, a night later.
Despite the NBA’s emphasis on cutting down back-to-backs, the Clippers will have to play 20 more of them this season. If last night and tonight are any indication, the Clippers will be just fine without the extra rest this year.
– Law Murray
At the start of tonight’s home opener, the Dallas Mavericks Twitter account tweeted about being disappointed by the turnout of Los Angeles’ acclaimed celebrity community – or rather, the lack thereof. After all, wasn’t this a big game, the first of the season, and against the Clippers’ number one rival for their wayward, free-agent center’s summertime affections? Or perhaps the word we’re lookng for here is “defection”; in truth, this game always seemed like it mattered more to the fans (and hotheaded owner) of the recently jilted Mavericks than the Clippers, their coach/GM, or their fanbase. Maybe that’s why this felt like such a lackluster start to the season, with a brutal first half where both teams missed a massive majority of their shots, and that eventually dissolved into the sort of blowout win that sends East Coast NBA fans to the comfort of their beds.
I actually risked my own good standing in one of my classes to stream the game on my phone under my desk; largely, it doesn’t feel like it was worth it.
There were some great takeaways: 14 assists and only 2 turnovers by press time in garbage time means that this season’s bench is already several orders of magnitude better than 2014-15’s messy melange of mediocrity. Austin Rivers played with incredible (nigh irrational) confidence, and the starters got to rest their legs on the first second game of a back-on-back of the season. All of this promises an impressive showing for the Clippers this season; we can only hope it’s a promise that they can live up to when the level of competition actually begins resembling real NBA-level ball.
– Aaron Williams
Glow with the Show
Radio waves transmitted to wristbands distributed to tonight’s arena crowd provided a new visual of the Clipper audience, as each look up from the court was showered with an assortment of lights akin to a starry night sky. A clap of the hands or a tap on the wrist was enough to trigger them alone, and with each choreographed event before or in-between game time, the light sequence of each band would play right along with them. A gimmick? Perhaps. But also a tool to provide a look unlike any Clippers game before it.
For a home crowd that has been maligned and criticized often for comprising of more spectators than fans, the organization may have found a way to include the crowd without having to force a vocal presence where one may not frequently exist. Here’s to searching for more innovative ways to engage an audience.
– Brandon Tomyoy