Los Angeles Clippers (43-27) vs Portland Trail Blazers (37-35)
7:30 p.m. PST
March 24, 2016
Fox Prime Ticket
Chris Lucia, Blazers Edge (@ChrisLuciaPDX): I think the league knows about most of the Blazers’ surprises — Dame and C.J. McCollum taking their games to the next level, Mason Plumlee’s passing skills, Ed Davis’ hustle, etc. For my money, though, I’ll say the wing play of Allen Crabbe and Gerald Henderson are my favorite surprises. No one really anticipated Crabbe’s improvement, and there were a ton of questions about how Henderson’s skill set (midrange game, playing off the dribble) would fit into Terry Stotts’ offense. But he’s acclimated himself well and has become a nice change-of-pace player off the bench.
Brandon Tomyoy (@dingyu): It has to be C.J. McCollum, doesn’t it? He’s averaging over 13 points more than he did just a season ago, and he’s even improved his per 36 numbers by almost 6 points a game! I would be absolutely shocked if he didn’t win Most Improved Player, because that award is his to lose at this point. Neil Olshey has this knack for drafting players from mid-majors, with McCollum out of Lehigh and Damian Lillard out of Weber State. I’m sure plenty a Clippers fan wishes he had never left.
2. On the other end of the spectrum, who’s been the most disappointing Clipper on the court this year?
Lucia: I’ll say Blake Griffin is the most disappointing Clipper from an outsider’s perspective — he was on track early on to be the key guy in LA and maybe take the mantle from Chris Paul as the Clippers’ best player. The way his injury has played out in Los Angeles must be incredibly frustrating for fans who had hoped everything would finally fall into place for the Clippers this year. When he’s on the court he’s a monster, but how many games has he been able to play in, ya know?
Shagrin: This is not a question fit for a 75 word response. We can harp all day on the “Austin Rivers still thinks he’s playing AAU” phenomenon or the “Jeff Green looks like he’d rather be anywhere but on a basketball court” experience, but those aren’t really disappointments. Anyone who’s ever seen these two play before would expect nothing different. The failure to meet expectations award goes to slow-motion Paul Pierce who seems to have replaced his feet with concrete blocks.
Tomyoy: Paul Pierce. When he started the season off shooting poorly, there was a belief that it was due to rust that would wear off, and for a stretch in late-December to early-January, it looks like it was going that way. Instead, the short-lived hot streak was exactly that, and it’s disappointing to watch his struggles especially considering the player he once was. This is Hakeem Olajuwon in Toronto territory we’re in right now. Maybe even Patrick Ewing in Orlando.
3. Who you got in the State Farm Family: DeAndre Jordan as “mom” or Damien Lillard as “baby”?
Lucia: How dare you ask me to potentially pick against Dame! I actually like Jordan and think he’s got a great sense of humor and some acting chops, but I’m taking Dame seven days a week and twice on Sundays. His astronomical rise into NBA superstardom this year has been a true treat for fans in Rip City and seeing him rep Portland and his hometown of Oakland on the national stage has been nothing short of captivating.
Shagrin: DeAndre as mom. Don’t we all agree that DJ would make an excellent parent? He’d never be the disciplinarian but he’d also 100% sneak you extra Swedish Fish when his spouse leaves the room. Or maybe Skittles. Point being DeAndre’s children will probably spend a lot of time at the dentist.
Tomyoy: I’m a mama’s boy.