Any discussion of Game 2 between the Clippers and Grizzlies has to start at the end of Game 1, when a 28-3 run by Los Angeles led to an improbable comeback win.
It was devastating to Memphis. Can the Grizzlies put that behind them and bounce back?
If the Grizzlies can, will the Clippers be able to alter the course of the first 40 minutes of that game when they were owned by Memphis? Can the Clippers overcome the loss of Caron Butler with a broken hand?
You can bet you will see a desperate Memphis team that knows it cannot go down 0-2 at home. You can bet the Clippers will be motivated now and make this a closer contest throughout:
Three things to watch:
1) How do the Clippers defend Rudy Gay now? Caron Butler gave the Clippers a veteran, physical wing defender, although the Grizzlies did a good job of forcing bigs to switch onto Gay off picks, then Gay took advantage. But Butler broke his hand. Now? At the three it may be Nick Young, who brings a lot of offense but not much defense. Vinny Del Negro’s other options is the steady but unspectacular Bobby Simmons. Either way the Grizzlies can’t let Memphis switch him into mismatches that he can exploit. Although Young is already a mismatch. Basically, Gay may have a big day and the Clippers have to counter it
2) Can the Clippers get Blake Griffin going, too? Chris Paul is the guy who make s the Clippers offense go. He’s the man. But Griffin is a tough defensive matchup — he has moves and can score out of the post, and if you bring the double he’s a better passer than you think. The Clippers need to counter what Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol can do by making them work on defense and getting Griffin going is key. They need more than just him dunking in transition.
3) Can Zach Randolph get going? Last season he was the reason the Grizzlies upset the Spurs — he was a force in the low block. He has fantastic footwork that creates space for a guy with an amazingly soft touch. But he is not yet 100 percent and it has looked that way. They need him, they need him to make Blake Griffin work (or get in foul trouble), they need his buckets. He will be key.
Take that Stephen Curry.
Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.
If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.
Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.
Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.
We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.
This was expected. It still sucks to hear.
Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.
Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.
San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.
In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.
Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.
Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.
Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.
Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.
That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as
Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.
Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.
He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.