It’s as simple as this: if the Clippers hadn’t pulled off a miracle comeback in Game 1, they would be on the wrong side of a 2-0 deficit coming into Game 3. The Clippers have been dominated for 87 of the 96 minutes played in this series so far, and they desperately need to make some changes if they want to win Game 3 on their home floor and take a 2-1 series lead.
The Grizzlies came into the playoffs as the best defensive team in the Western Conference, and they’ve been able to almost completely neutralize what the Clippers do on offense, which is pretty much all pick-and-rolls. The Grizzlies have also used their superior size up front to muscle the Clippers in the paint, and absolutely dominated the glass in Game 2, when they also won the turnover battle handily.
The Clippers need to get their offense going in Game 3, and that means people not named Chris Paul are going to have to step up. The Clippers will need to space the floor with shooting and give the Grizzlies’ defense multiple things to worry about. Past that, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Kenyon Martin, and Reggie Evans need to do a better job of making Marc Gasol, Mareese Speights, Zach Randolph and Co. uncomfortable in the paint and on the glass, and the Clippers need to do a better job of defending Rudy Gay.
There you have it — the Clippers were pretty soundly outplayed in the first two games of the series, but did manage to pull of that aforementioned miracle, and consequently the team is just two home wins away from a commanding 3-1 series lead. We’ll see if they can pull it off.
The basketball community lost its collective mind on Wednesday night when Duke Blue Devils star Zion Williamson was injured after blowing out a pair of Nike basketball shoes in a rivalry game against the University of North Carolina.
Williamson’s injury was such that shares of Nike actually fell come Thursday. Meanwhile, the debate about whether Williamson should continue to play for free in the NCAA raged on all day.
Of course Williamson was wearing Paul George‘s signature shoe when he experienced the blowout, which apparently prompted the Oklahoma City Thunder star to contact Nike about it.
George’s shoes are very popular across basketball, and he told reporters that this had never happened to his knowledge.
I do wonder if players will be more reticent to wear one of the more popular shoes in the NBA. Then again, Williamson is a freak of nature in of himself so it’s not likely that the forces created by his power would be exerted by a normal player in the league.
When presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson went to the ground, his knee twisting, early in Duke’s game against North Carolina Wednesday night, the basketball world collectively gasped.
Former President Barack Obama was there and quickly recognized the problem:
It did, unquestionably. The 6-foot-7, 284 pound Williamson was wearing the PG 2.5 PEs (the Paul George signature line of Nikes), and when he made a hard cut the shoe gave out and Williamson went to the ground in a heap. The television cameras closed in on the busted Nike.
That’s not good press.
Fortunately, Williams suffered only a mild, Grade 1 knee sprain, and is day-to-day.
Nike released a statement to multiple media outlets that said, “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”
Nike stock dropped one percent on Thursday, although that level of fluctuation is not serious.
Bottom line, if this remains an isolated incident, Nike’s reputation — and position as the dominant force in basketball shoes — is not in danger. Fans and players will forgive one random incident. Have it happen again to a high-profile player and… Nike doesn’t want to find out.
“I think it’s wonderful what we’re seeing in the league right now, some of the rules changes we’ve made in the last few years that really focus on skill-based playing. I’d like to think that young people around the world are able to look at this game and say, I can be as great as my desire to dedicate myself to this game, especially when it comes to shooting and ball handling. I get it, you can’t dream about being seven feet tall, but you can dream about having ball-handling skills like Steph Curry.”
That was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver All-Star weekend in Charlotte, and television ratings and overall interest in the league back him up — NBA ratings have been largely rising for years, both on the local and national level. Fans seem to gravitate towards fast-paced, entertaining teams and games.
But not everybody loves it. Charles Barkley can lead the “get off my lawn crowd.” However, there is a role for throwback players in the game. Guys who would have thrived in the 1990s, or the 1960s. Boston’s Marcus Smart is one of those guys — he told Mirin Fader of Bleacher Report he wishes there was more physicality in the league.
“Back in the ’60s, ’70s, my mindset and the way I play would be perfect. They play like that every game,” Smart says…
“That’s just what it is! Exactly!” he says, a smile breaking through. “I think we kind of lost that in today’s game. Everything’s become real cute. Everybody’s scared to go to the rim. Everybody’s scared to get hit. Everybody’s scared to touch.
“I thrive on the contact. Contact is in my nature.”
The NBA has always had to strike a balance between physicality and allowing skill to flourish. Right now the pendulum has swung well over to the skill side, and some fans romantically recall 1990s basketball when the pendulum was on the other side. They think of Michael Jordan or Allen Iverson and remember the era fondly through the haze of time. Of course, what that time obscured were the slogs of games with scoring in the 80s and maybe 90s, they forget how hard it could be to watch Mike Fratello’s Cavaliers clutch and grab their way to a slow, tedious, and coach-controlled four quarters. The 90s were not filled with the beautiful game.
But in any era, a guy like Smart has real value because he’s a good basketball player. Plain and simple. Just one who would like to be allowed to be a little more physical.
After getting traded from the 76ers to the Magic, Markelle Fultz said, “It just excites me really to know that I have coaches that’s going to push you to be better and not just going to tell you what you want to hear.”
I don’t know whether Fultz intended that to sound like a shot at Philadelphia coach Brett Brown. But it sounded like a shot at Philadelphia coach Brett Brown.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
Brown said Fultz “didn’t mean that.”He said the two have spoken back and forth.
“He’s a good kid,” he said. “He’s a good young man, and, truly, we wish him well.”
I’d prefer to hear that directly from Fultz. But I doubt he’ll do any more interviews this season until he plays again – and who knows when that will be?
Still, it can be difficult for a player to compliment his new team without sounding like he’s admonishing his old team. There was always a good chance that’s all that happened with Fultz. Brown’s explanation makes that even more likely.