It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you, without a dope Game of the Night to step to.
The NBA playoff races are heating up. The Western Conference has been fun throughout the year, but hey, check out that Eastern Conference mosh pit. The three seed is up for grabs with Toronto, Chicago, and Washington all a within a game of each other. After a terrible start to the season, the Brooklyn Nets linger as well, just 32-20 and three games behind Toronto for the three seed and Atlantic Division lead. After losing 13 of their last 15 games, the Atlanta Hawks still hold their lead over the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks, but it’s only a two-game lead.
Eastern Conference: It’s Fan-Tastic
The undercard for this Wesnedsay is rather meek, but respectable at the same time. Brooklyn against Miami could once again show ignite the “Brooklyn can steal a game from Miami” flames if the Nets win, but Denver at Orlando is interesting, too. The Nuggets owe Orlando a first-round pick in this year’s draft, and the Nuggets own a pick from the Knicks. Orlando gets the worse pick out of Denver and New York, and it’s looking to like Orlando will have two top ten picks this year. However, Lawson and Oladipo will be fun, no? Memphis vs. New Orleans pits Marc Gasol and Anthony Davis, and Portland vs. San Antonio has Portland playing another playoff team. Hopefully they fare well. Personally, I’ll watch to see Tony Parker matchup against Damian Lillard.
The Game of the Night honors go to the Golden State Warriors against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers are the fascinating team because of their recent additions. Danny Granger is a shell of his former All-Star form, but he’s still a great corner three shooter, shooting over 40% from both. Glen “Big Baby” Davis is the true gem acquisition. Not only does Davis offers Los Angeles the third big man they’ve needed from the beginning of the season, but he’s also a solid defensive player, and knows Doc Rivers’ system. Thanks to his addition to the rotation, the Clippers are now considered “legitimate” contenders to come out of the West, even with J.J. Redick’s health being a major concern.
To put the cherry on top, it seems like Blake Griffin has taken another step in his game. It started with his dominance without Chris Paul, and as Paul returned from injury, Griffin has continued his incredible offensive pace. For the season, Griffin is shooting 54% on two-point field goals, but he’s becoming a legitimate pick-and-pop threat, shooting 40% on long twos (two-point field goals 16 feet or further). Thanks to NBA.com’s SportsVU, we can see some of Griffin’s passing. Griffin is second on the team in both secondary assists and points created by assists per game. Then, he’s becoming a better, more active defensive player, which is always a great step. Blake isn’t a plus defender, but after three seasons of learning, he’s becoming an active one, and that’s a great sign to see, and huge if the Clippers want to live up to those championship aspirations.
The Warriors are the Warriors. I don’t know how to actually describe this team. Some nights they flash brilliance, enough to make one consider them a title contender. Then, they lose a game, and go through a small funk, enough to make you wonder what’s going on with the team. Stephen Curry is incredible, and possibly, an underrated superstar. Other than his ball-handling, which is sloppy at times and leads to some poor turnovers, Curry averages 23.5 points, 8.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals, makes Golden State’s offense a fireball when he touches the floor, and thrives in late-game situations. He’s everything for the Warriors offensively.
However, the Warriors have their own set of problems. Harrison Barnes has yet to take the leap many expected after the 2013 NBA playoffs, and is being outplayed by 2013 second-round pick Draymond Green, yet Barnes receives more minutes. Andre Iguodala hasn’t been the same since returning from his injury, providing a multitude of defensive value, but modest offensive production. Klay Thompson is good, but not as good as Warriors fans expected him to be. Other than scoring in different ways – which is valuable, Klay is not just a three-point shooter anymore, he can actually post-up now, which seem very valuable at times- Thompson doesn’t do much to help offensively. Those problems, combined with the David Lee at the four situation holds Golden State back a bit.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed the additions of Crawford and Blake before the deadline, even if one of them is struggling at the moment. The Warriors are sitting in the sixth position in the West, but I think they’re a dangerous round one opponent for anyone (Avoid at all costs, Portland).
The Call: Clippers 106, Warriors 101. I completely forgot that these two teams dislike each other, and for that, I made the score a bit closer. I’m enjoying everything the Clippers are doing at the moment, and I feel like they will take that leap from a question mark to title contender as the season reaches its endpoint. Blake Griffin should be able to take advantage of David Lee on defense, and both teams should light up the score board with their array of three-point shooters. I say Jamal Crawford has a solid game, but Chris Paul closes this game for the Clippers.
- National TV: None
- Regional TV: CSNB (Warriors) | FSW2 (Clippers) | League Pass
- Time: 10:30 ET