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Tag: Los Angeles Clippers (page 1 of 3)

Jovan Buha: Blake Griffin Will “Surpass Paul as Best & Most Important Clipper Ever”


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ESPN.com’s Jovan Buha joins the podcast to analyze the Los Angeles Clippers’ tumultuous 2017 offseason, highlighted by the departure of Chris Paul and the re-signing of Blake Griffin. Developments from the last couple weeks have raised so many questions. Fortunately, Jovan can reliably provide compelling answers.

Enjoy these clips (pun intended; puns are always intended here):

4:14-5:03: “He [Paul] obviously wants to win a championship, wants to make the conference finals, get that monkey off his back, and I think for him, surveying the scene, I think Houston and San Antonio both had more upside. The Clippers, with their cap situation, were most likely going to lose J.J. Redick no matter what and still might end up losing Luc Mbah a Moute, who actually ended up being a bargain signing for them with the bi-annual exception. So I think just looking at it from that perspective, the Clippers were basically going to return the same team as last year minus their two starting wings. And if I’m Chris Paul and we just won 51 games and lost in the first round, that’s not very attractive to me.”

28:57-30:20: “I thought they added depth, they added versatility, they added some youth, and they added assets. At the worst, Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley can both be flipped easily if you want to flip those guys…In the macro sense, the Clippers lost the trade because they lost a top-10 player and they went from a fringe contender to a playoff hopeful.” Continue reading

Keith Smith: Clippers Face “No-Win Situation,” Celtics Target Hayward

Chris Paul’s exit further complicates the Clippers’ and Blake Griffin’s looming decision of how to handle his unrestricted free agency (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Though the free agency period does not officially begin until July 1, the landscape of the NBA has already shifted dramatically after the draft, a few franchise-altering trades and a couple front-office shake-ups. To help us sort through all the madness of the last week and predict the remaining changes to come, we’ve brought on Keith Smith, who covers the NBA for Real GM and Fan Rag Sports, and has been presenting detailed analyses of each team’s offseason plans on his show, NBA Front Office. With Keith, we break down the ramifications of the blockbuster trades that sent Chris Paul to Houston and Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, discuss the fallout of the Knicks and the Cavaliers severing ties with executives Phil Jackson and David Griffin, respectively, and, of course, try to forecast the eventual landing spots for Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin, George Hill, Paul Millsap and all of the other high-profile free agents and likely movers this offseason.

7:03-7:30: “One of the things that’s really funny about the Blake Griffin question is you can see it going one of two ways. You can see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Forget it. We can’t replace CP3. I’m not gonna be able to win here now. I want to move on. I want to get out of here and go somewhere else.’ Or you could see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Finally, it’s my team. I have it to myself. I don’t have to deal with this guy yapping at me all the time, and we didn’t necessarily get along great.’ So that’s where it becomes really tricky.”

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Zach Harper: With Continuity, Jazz Could Become “Best Non-Warriors Lineup in NBA”

The Utah Jazz have persevered through a season full of injuries on their way to 51 regular-season wins and a possible advance into the second round of the postseason (Gordon Hayward/Instagram).

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Before this season, the Utah Jazz had made their last postseason appearance in 2012 and hadn’t won a playoff game since 2010. Since then, they bottomed out at 25 wins in 2013-14, then steadily built themselves back up by developing players, finding diamonds in the rough, and, this season, adding some key veterans to their squad. Now, up 3-2 on the Los Angeles Clippers and heading home to Utah for Friday’s Game 6, they’re on the brink of advancing to the next round to face the Golden State Warriors. Zach Harper, an NBA columnist for Fan Rag Sports, twice-a-week participant on ESPN’s TrueHoop Podcast and co-host of the Salt City Hoops Show, takes us through that journey. He breaks down what we can expect for the rest of the Jazz’s postseason, explains how they’re so dangerous on both sides of the court, looks at some big decisions looming ahead in the offseason and tells excellent stories and more. Not to toot our own horn, but you can sample some mellifluous excerpts below:

7:19-8:07: “You’ve allowed the Jazz to kind of dictate so much of the tempo to be a slow, grind-it-out game, and that’s what they want. They want to play at that slow pace. They want to force you to defend for 24 seconds. They want to force you to attack late in the shot clock against them and have to panic into shots and everything. So that’s the tough thing for the Clippers, and maybe why Game 5 was a little bit of a must-win. Just because you can’t be back against the wall while also not being able to play the brand of basketball you want to play in a series. With that said, the Jazz are looking at Game 6 as a must-win, because they don’t want to go back to LA. I kind of think that’s a mistake. It puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on the home team, especially one with such a young core.”

11:58-12:41: “A lot of people locally will say it [the team MVP] has been Rudy Gobert because [of] the defensive impact. Gordon [Hayward]’s a really good defender. He plays really well defensively within that system, and he’s so vital to them offensively that, to me, it’s just enough to edge out what Gobert’s been able to do, who might be the Defensive Player of the Year and was the second-best pick ‘n roll big man this year in the NBA, but Gordon, his patience…you see so many star wings go into this hero mode and this iso[lation] mode and maybe rush shots and rush possessions, because you have to make sure you get a shot off, right? But Gordon just always plays within the flow of the offense and doesn’t really force anything, doesn’t take bad shots.”

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Jovan Buha: Clippers “Much Closer to (Dominant) Team From Beginning of Season”

This postseason, Blake Griffin and the Clippers are fighting to stay relevant when it comes to discussion of the NBA’s elite (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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On this playoff edition, ESPN’s Jovan Buha joins us to help preview the Los Angeles Clippers-Utah Jazz matchup, an opening-round series that pits the league’s No. 4 offense against the No. 3 defense. The series comes at a pivotal time for the Clippers, who year after year have failed to meet high postseason expectations and will likely see three of their stars enter unrestricted free agency in the offseason. Do the Clippers have a fatal flaw, or have they merely not yet gotten over the hump? Jovan ponders that very question and much, much more. Sample some clip(per)s below:

9:25 – 10:10: Jovan discusses the legitimacy of the Clippers-as-chokers narrative and whether it affects the team: 

“It’s much easier to say a team choked than provide the context of it. With that said, there really is no other way to frame the Thunder series or the Rockets series. Both series, the Clippers should have won, or the Thunder series at least should have gone to seven. I do think the Clippers choked in both instances, but I don’t think that necessarily is their identity, and I don’t think necessarily they should be judged that way…I do think that the media narrative has gotten to them a little bit, and I do know that a lot of these guys pay attention to the media more than they let on, and it does seem to bother them more than they admit.” Continue reading

Clippers Sail into Third, Hawks Rise Eight Spots (Power Rankings: April 12, 2017 Edition)

Seemingly recovered from injury, Chris Paul is playing at a high level as he chases his first championship ring (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).

We’ve reached the final day in a historic NBA season packed with nearly unprecedented statistical seasons by some players, monstrous single-game outbursts by others and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for almost all of the teams in the league. On Wednesday’s final 14-game slate, six playoff seeds are still yet to be determined: 1, 2, 7 and 8 in the East and 4 and 5 in the West. Thirteen teams have already been eliminated from further contention, and the rest hope that their fortunes will be on the rise. This will be the final edition of our power rankings this season, but as a reminder, you can chart how every team has fared in our rankings over the course of the season with the interactive graph atop the Power Rankings landing page.

Biggest Jumps: Atlanta Hawks (+8), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6), Los Angeles Lakers (+6)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-7), Denver Nuggets (-6), Dallas Mavericks (-5) Continue reading

Dame, C.J. and Nurkic Propel Portland Toward Playoffs (Power Rankings: March 29, 2017 Edition)

With brilliant play since the All-Star break and a little help from his friends, Damian Lillard has led the Trail Blazers into sole possession of the Western Conference’s eighth seed (James Schumacher/Flickr).

With fewer than 10 games remaining on each team’s regular-season schedule, valuable playoff seeding is still up for grabs all over the NBA standings. Some teams, like the Celtics, Blazers and Raptors, look like they’re hitting their stride at just the right moment, building momentum that they hope will continue through the playoffs. Others, like the Hawks and Cavaliers, are just hoping that they can stop the bleeding before it’s too late. As always, the result is much debate and movement in the penultimate regular-season edition of our power rankings.

Biggest Jumps: Portland Trail Blazers (+8), Toronto Raptors (+5), Denver Nuggets (+5), New Orleans Pelicans (+5)

Biggest Falls: Minnesota Timberwolves (-14), Detroit Pistons (-9), Atlanta Hawks (-7)

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Dan Devine: Pelicans’ “Bully Ball” Could Take Toll on Warriors in Postseason (Trade Deadline Special)

Alongside new addition DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans hope to rise up the Western Conference standings and cause problems for the Warriors in the playoffs (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Less than 24 hours before the NBA’s annual trade deadline, Yahoo! Sports NBA editor Dan Devine (Ball Don’t Lie) fits us into his busy schedule. Dan breaks down the league’s biggest trades to date (chief among them, this past weekend’s DeMarcus Cousins deal), hints at what may be on the horizon and touches upon the Clippers’ postseason prospects and two dark-horse contenders in the Rockets and Wizards. He even provides a glimpse into New Orleans cuisine. What a guy! What a show!

7:57-9:15: Dan explores how the DeMarcus Cousins acquisition will likely affect the Pelicans’ position in the race for the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed:

“Adding Boogie to the lineup, giving them that core three with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, gives them, from a talent perspective, maybe the best core that you can offer in that group. It’s also worth remembering that New Orleans is three games back of Denver in the loss column right now, and they’ve got to leapfrog both Portland and Sacramento…They’ve got some work to do…and they’re going to have to integrate a gigantic piece with 25 games left in the season. Continue reading

Kacy Sager: Dad, Craig, “Always Referred to (NBA All-Star Weekend) as His Christmas”

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With NBA All-Star Weekend upon us and her dad, Craig, slated to be inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame Friday, Kacy Sager joins the podcast. In addition to sharing some special anecdotes about her legendary father, a man who adored the annual All-Star festivities, Kacy describes her love for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game, gives her pick for league MVP and provides insight into the wild Eastern Conference landscape and Atlanta’s handling of Paul Millsap, among other topics. Kacy, who serves as a contributor for Basketball Breakdown and a member of Turner Sports’ stat team, is honest and entertaining as ever. Here’s a select sample of what she has to say:

5:01-6:35: Kacy’s all-time favorite NBA player is a precocious 22-year-old named Giannis Antetokounmpo:

“As much as I’ve always known that he was going to end up being a really, really big player, I didn’t even expect it to happen this year. I thought it was going to happen next year. So it’s really cool to see him already taking that big of a leap, and he still has so much potential. He’s doing things out there that shouldn’t physically be possible… Some of it is so mundane at this point, which I feel horrible saying. I feel like we’re going to start taking him for granted at some point. It was fun to watch him during the shootaround before the game though, just shimmying and dancing out there. He always has the hugest grin on his face, and it’s so cool to know that he just so frickin’ excited to be an All-Star. And I’m so excited for him. I cried. I legitimately shed a tear.”

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Defense Propels 76ers Nine Spots (Power Rankings: Jan. 20, 2017 Edition)

Coach Brett Brown and his Sixers are finally starting to see results, with wins in seven of their last nine games (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).

With every team at or beyond the midpoint of its regular-season schedule, it could not be a better time to assess how each squad measures up. Some teams will be celebrating All-Star starter selections just named, while many others are confronting serious injuries. Amid this crazy time, the 76ers jumped nine slots, leaving the league’s cellar thanks to a mighty strong start to 2017. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic have experienced the league’s steepest declines in recent weeks.

Biggest Jumps: Philadelphia 76ers (+9), Washington Wizards (+4), Detroit Pistons (+4), Denver Nuggets (+4)

Biggest Falls: Sacramento Kings (-8), Charlotte Hornets (-8), Orlando Magic (-7)
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Andrew Han: Griffin, Paul Likely to Stay With Clippers

Chris Paul and teammate and frequent lob recipient Blake Griffin can both opt out of their contracts in the summer of 2017 (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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At the midpoint of the Clippers’ regular season, there’s no need to fear. Why not? ESPN.com NBA writer and editor Andrew Han is here. The host of ESPN LA’s Clippers Podcast dazzles as he reverses roles and answers all of our Clippers-related inquiries. Chief among those, why has a once-elite defense fallen on such hard times? In this extensive interview, Han sheds light on recent improvements to the Clippers’ front office, impactful free-agent additions Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton and Luc Mbah a Moute’s sizable improvement, among a slew of other timely topics. Of course, he also addresses whether or not either of the team’s superstars could realistically depart upon season’s end. Read on for a handful of exhilarating excerpts:

3:51-5:01: Andrew diagnoses the main cause for the Clippers’ defensive struggles that have occurred since early December: “Because he [Luc Mbah a Moute] is so versatile, the Clippers switched [on] a lot of their coverages early in the season – Blake Griffin, in particular, because even though Blake is not the best defender, he certainly has the athletic ability to stay with most players, whether they’re perimeter players or big men. And so Blake and Luc would switch a lot. And I think one of the issues that occurred is that they started to switch more and more, and there’s that balance between switching because everyone is on a string and you know what your teammates and the people behind you are thinking and switching out of laziness because it’s just easier to do that…In layman’s terms, they were being lazy and not giving enough effort on defense, and I think that contributed to a lot of the defensive decline…and then of course the injuries only made everything worse.” Continue reading

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