Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by Ryan Carbain Comments

 

Projected Record: 55-27 (3rd in West)

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Blake Griffin, Chris Paul

Is it finally the high-flying Blake Griffin's year? (AP)

Head coach: Doc Rivers
2013-14 record: 57-25
2013-14 ORtg: 109.4 (1st)
2013-14 DRtg: 102.1 (T-7th)
Players in: Steve Ballmer (owner), Jordan Farmar, Spencer Hawes, C.J. Wilcox
Players out: Donald Sterling (owner), Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, Danny Granger, Willie Green, Ryan Hollins, Hedo Turkoglu
Projected Starting Lineup: Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

No group of professionals, basketball players or otherwise, deserve to endure working for an individual as contemptible as Donald Sterling, and the Los Angeles Clippers enter this season with a higher morale from the mere fact that the NBA has disposed of him.

The team seeks to improve upon a relatively successful ’13-’14 campaign that earned them a 57-25 record, good enough to capture a Pacific Division title and a third seed in the West. The team can expect to improve based off the factors: the continued growth of its superstar Blake Griffin; a bit of continuity with its roster and coach as Doc Rivers enters his second year in LA; and an offseason theme of “addition by subtraction” with Sterling gone and Jared Dudley shipped off as well.

Still, it’s hard to see that being enough to take the top spot in the conference. The Brooklyn Game projects the Clippers to finish at 55-27, again taking the Pacific and finishing third in the West.

Offensively, they finished first in the league with a offensive rating of 112.1 points per possession. The offseason acquisition of pick-and-pop extraordinaire Spencer Hawes and former Nets guard Jordan Farmar may actually increase the offensive efficiency of a team that can flat out knock down threes.

Like any Rivers-coached squad, the focus is on defense. Rivers brought some toughness and the same defensive scheme that won him a title with the Boston Celtics, but it didn’t really change much. Let’s not disparage the defense: after all, the team remained a top-10 defense, ranking 9th in the league. But they actually dropped a spot from the year prior.

DeAndre Jordan improved as a defender, but he cannot remain on the court during crunch time because of poor foul shooting. His new backup Hawes brings a ton on offense as a pick-and-pop shooter, but little on defense. The team’s best big, Blake Griffin is smart, athletic, and strong, but has to focus mostly on offense. This group may continue to have problems with the bruising big man duo in Memphis.

Their wing defenders are solid, Matt Barnes in particular. Second-year-man Reggie Bullock projects as a better defender in the league but has seen little court time prior to this season. Starting shooting guard J.J. Redick is actually underrated as a defender. A good group overall, but can you see them locking (or even slowing) down Durant? Throwing a wrench into the Spurs superior system? I think not.

Chris Paul can still get the job done as the league's top point guard, though he still can’t handle D-Will’s crossover. Jamal Crawford is as bad it gets. Farmar will struggle on defense too. It’s a focused team but missing one piece to put it over the top.

If this team played in the Eastern Conference, it could very well win 60 games and give the Cavaliers all they could handle in a fight for the top seed. The Clippers starting five of Jordan, Griffin, Barnes, Redick, and Paul offers the type of floor spacing and knock-down shooting to put a real scare into Thibodeau’s Bulls, too. But, alas, they play in the West.

As good and as focused as this team is, it’s heading for nearly 60 wins, but no further than the Western Conference Semifinals. They should be much higher on your League Pass rankings.

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Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce (AP)

The 7-14 Brooklyn Nets take on the the 15-8 Los Angeles Clippers in Brooklyn tonight. The Nets are on the first half of a back-to-back and riding their first winning streak (two games!) of the season. It's also only the second time they've played back-to-back games at home. The Clippers are on the second night of a back-to-back after a victory over the Boston Celtics. Here's how you can check it out.

Starting Lineup: Deron Williams, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez.

Injury report: Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Jason Terry (knee) will both sit. Paul Pierce will come off the bench for the second straight game.

When & Where: 8 P.M. EST, Barclays Center, Brooklyn
Watch: T.N.T.
Listen: CBS WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM

 

Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sports

Riding their first winning streak of the year (technically!), the Brooklyn Nets take on the Los Angeles Clippers. Of course, this game’s storyline lies in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce finally playing against their former coach, Doc Rivers, as well as Deron Williams facing off against Chris Paul. The Nets played the Clippers on November 16th and ultimately lost 110-103 without Garnett, Pierce, Williams or Lopez available.

Tonight, they’re all healthy (or healthy-ish) and will look to avenge their loss from earlier this season. Here are the three biggest questions going into tonight’s tilt against the Clippers:

1. How badly will Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan abuse the Nets in the post?

... MORE →

 

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin & Clippers co. at full strength as the depleted Nets travel to Los Angeles.

The 3-5 Brooklyn Nets are in Los Angeles tonight, as a scattered semblance of themselves, to take on the 6-3 Los Angeles Clippers in a late-night contest in California. I say scattered semblance because these are not the Brooklyn Nets you've gotten used to to start the season; these are your practice squad Brooklyn Nets. Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez are all sitting out with various injuries. With Andrei Kirilenko already sidelined with back spasms, the Nets will suit up ten players tonight. Good thing they're two deep at each position. They're going to need it.

The Nets will start Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche.

Where & When: 10:30 P.M. EST, Staples Center, Los Angeles
Watch: YES Network, NBA TV
Listen: CBS WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM

In the Arena: Our man Daniel Savitzky is in Los Angeles covering tonight's game. Follow him. On Twitter, not in real life.

Even without the team's stars, here's three things tonight still worth watching.

  • The realness of Shaun Livingston. Livingston shined in preseason playing with the team's starters, and with half the team sitting, Livingston has another shot to showcase his talent. With Williams sidelined, Livingston took advantage of the extra playing time, leading the Nets on a 20-0 run between the second and third quarters to take the lead en route to an overtime victory. One caveat: Livingston played well because he was able to bounce off the starters, finding them in open spots and taking advantage of the space provided on the floor. Without All-Star teammates flanking him all around, can he still lead an NBA-level offense?

  • Dray Day. Andray Blatche will start for Brook Lopez. If this Nets game gets out of hand, Andray Blatche may use the game as an opportunity to build time on his BallisLife mixtape, which could go disastrously, hilariously, wonderfully, or all three. When Blatche has the ball and a head of Blatche, it's the greatest show in sports. We may see a half-dozen moves we've never seen before, even by Blatche standards.

  • Lob City. Let's be honest here. The Nets are sitting most of their team and they're on the road after an overtime win the night before. They're probably not going to look good. That means that Chris Paul will loft passes above the rim to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. And that means dunks. Lots and lots of dunks.


 

Today's installment of Better Know An Opponent focuses on the Los Angeles Clippers. Let's take a look.... MORE →

 

Indiana Pacers associate head coach and Brooklyn Nets coaching candidate Brian Shaw's representative, W. Jerome Stanley, released a statement via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLA.com about Shaw's future:... MORE →

 

Brian Shaw (AP)

In the beginning of May, Indiana Pacers President Donnie Walsh said he'd give the Brooklyn Nets permission to speak with Pacers assistant Brian Shaw about their vacant head coaching position once the season ended. It appears the Pacers made good on that promise.

The Nets officially have permission from the Pacers to speak with Shaw about the position, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Shaw is considered the team's #1 target for the position, with Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins also in the mix.

The Nets are expected to meet with him sooner rather than later.

Shaw has been an assistant coach since his retirement as a player in 2004, first with the Los Angeles Lakers until 2011 and then as an "Associate Head Coach" with the Pacers under Frank Vogel.

He is also considered the #1 target for the vacant Los Angeles Clippers position. Basically, Brian Shaw gets to choose between making millions in Los Angeles coaching Blake Griffin & Chris Paul, or making millions in Brooklyn coaching Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, & Brook Lopez. Not a bad life.

Yahoo! Sports -- Sources: Nets granted permission to speak with Pacers' Brian Shaw about head-coaching job

 

At the start of the fourth quarter in the Brooklyn Nets-Los Angeles Clippers game last night, Nets forward Kris Humphries got tied up with Clippers forward Lamar Odom going for a rebound, causing the referees to call for a jump ball.

Now, normally a jump ball between two overpaid backup forwards wouldn't be cause for any interest,... MORE →

 

Gerald Wallace, Matt Barnes

Gerald Wallace had a big 3rd quarter, but it wasn't enough. (AP)

When the then-New Jersey Nets traded for Deron Williams, General Manager Billy King repeatedly said that he felt Deron Williams was the league's best point guard. Though the past two seasons may have changed his mind, last night was a stark reminder: Chris Paul is the league's best point guard, and everyone else is racing for second.

Fueled by Paul, who finished with 29 points -- 17 in the fourth quarter, including 9-9 from the free throw line -- and 11 assists, the Los Angeles Clippers hung around for three quarters before blowing it up in the fourth, turning a 75-70 deficit after three quarters into a 101-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

"We put ourselves in a position to win the game, and they did a much better job closing it out then we did," Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo told reporters after the game. "It's another day. Overall we played a really good game… there were a lot of good things. we got a big lift from the (second) team in the first half, in the second half, we didn't get that same lift."

The Nets played the Clippers relatively evenly in the first few 45 minutes. Reggie Evans kept superathlete Blake Griffin in check, Deron Williams & Joe Johnson had effective moments, Brook Lopez scored inside and out, including a beautiful out-of-bounds play that tied the game at 90 with 2:32 left.

That's when all hell broke loose.

A Chris Paul long two-pointer. A long, missed three-pointer by Deron Williams. A careless, lackadaisical pass from Deron Williams that Jamal Crawford read, picked, and drove to the other end for a dunk. A fifty-second possession for Los Angeles that changed the complexion of the game, even though they didn't score. An unbelievable shot from Paul in which he switched hands in mid-air -- twice -- and still scored through contact, drawing a foul and putting the Clippers up five with just 22 seconds left. Another missed isolation three from Johnson, and that was that.

Blake Griffin, Brook LopezI know it only means so much, but this is an eight-game road trip, and the Nets weren't going 8-0 on it. Outside of the Nuggets, the Clippers posed the biggest threat to the Nets on this road trip, and the Nets did play a solid game given the competition. Could they have won? Absolutely. But the Clippers are a better team, and Brooklyn's suffered far worse losses this season.

Add in that Joe Johnson suffered a quad contusion in the third quarter, causing him to miss minutes in the fourth, and the loss -- though avoidable -- could have been worse. Carlesimo insinuated after the game that Johnson was only playing so that his quad wouldn't tighten up. Johnson is questionable for tomorrow.

The Clippers didn't reinvent the wheel in the game-deciding fourth quarter, they merely rolled with what they had: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, with two players spacing the floor. On nearly every crunch time possession, the Clippers sent one of either Griffin or Jordan to set a high screen for Paul, and let Paul do the rest -- whether that be look to score, look to lob, or look to dish to an open shooter. That's multiple high-octane weapons at once. They're the super-weapon Betty White made out of nine tools in Community. The Nets in the fourth quarter were Jeff Winger. Joe Johnson was wounded respect.

Put it this way: 47 wins means 35 losses. This was one of them. Better it comes against a team as good as the Clippers. This was indicative of where these two teams are right now. If the Nets are healthy tomorrow and lose a bad one to the Phoenix Suns, I'll be more worried.

 

Brook Lopez isn't exactly known for his hard fouls, and Blake Griffin isn't exactly known for getting dunks stopped. So this was nice.

 

After three full weeks without leaving the bench, even when healthy or in garbage time, Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries made his return to the rotation Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, logging first-quarter minutes over Mirza Teletovic as the first power forward off the bench. Humphries responded positively, swatting a shot off the backboard that led to center Andray Blatche leading the break and setting up guard C.J. Watson for an open 3.

Watch, of only to hear Chris Carrino compare Blatche to Magic Johnson:

 

Tonight: The 40-28 playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets are on game three of their eight-game Circus Trip, taking on their hardest opponent thus far on the trip: the 47-22 Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers most recently beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-72, and are led by Chris Paul, who currently ranks third in the league in PER. (Brook Lopez ranks fourth.) The Nets are 2-0 on their trip after taking down the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks.

The BK Game Streak: Play "The BK Game Streak," where you can build a streak of wins along the betting line over the course of the season. Three prizes will be awarded at the end of the year, with first prize a $200 Amazon Gift Card. Log in with Facebook to get started, vote in the box above, and good luck!

Watch & Listen: Tonight's game is broadcast on YES Network. Chris Carrino and Mike Fratello are on the call. The game is also broadcast on ESPN. The game is radio simulcast on WFAN, and in Spanish on WADO.

More on tonight's game, including injuries and stats, after the jump... MORE →