yardbarker
RealGM Basketball

Los Angeles Clippers BlogLos Angeles Clippers Blog

RealGM's Playoff Predictions

Here are the playoffs predictions from eight of RealGM's writers.

Christopher Reina (@CR_Reina)

First Round Winners: Pacers, Bulls, Raptors, Heat, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, Thunder

Second Round Winners: Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Thunder

Conference Finals Winners: Heat, Thunder

Finals Winner: Thunder

The wear and tear of reaching The Finals in each season since the formation of the Big 3 will finally catch up with the Heat against the Thunder. Kevin Durant and LeBron James will be as brilliant as expected in this series, but it will come down to how healthy and effective Russell Westbrook is compared to Dwyane Wade, along with how stubborn Scott Brooks is with his rotations. With superstars potentially moving around again this offseason, this could be the last best shot for Oklahoma City.

Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania)

First Round Winners: Pacers, Bulls, Raptors, Heat, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, Thunder

Second Round Winners: Pacers, Heat. Spurs, Thunder

Conference Finals Winners: Heat, Thunder

Finals Winner: Thunder

Unseating the two-time reigning champions is difficult, but Oklahoma City has the likely MVP and a motivation that still permeates from its defeat in The Finals last season. The Heat's health also could be put into jeopardy this late into a fourth straight run to the championship series.

Jonathan Tjarks (@JonathanTjarks)

First Round Winners: Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, Pacers, Heat, Raptors, Bulls

Second Round Winners: Spurs, Thunder, Pacers, Heat

Conference Finals: Thunder, Heat

Finals Winner: Heat

Miami still has the best player in the world and they've done a much better job of managing Wade's minutes in the regular season. Watch out for Greg Oden and Michael Beasley - I could see both playing a huge role at certain points in the playoffs. 

Daniel Leroux (@DannyLeroux)

First Round Winners: Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, Pacers, Heat, Nets, Bulls

Second Round Winners: Spurs, Clippers, Pacers, Heat 

Conference Finals Winners: Spurs, Heat 

Finals Winner: Heat

This year is challenging because I feel the Spurs are the best team, but Miami has the twin benefits of being more likely to make the Finals due to a weaker conference and having the best player in the world will of course prove valuable should they make it. Health will be a major factor and it would make sense for it to hit the Heat due to their age but that does not trump their other advantages in my mind.

Andrew Perna (@Andrew_Perna)

First Round Winners: Pacers, Bulls, Nets, Heat, Spurs, Blazers, Clippers, Thunder

Second Round Winners: Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Thunder

Conference Finals Winners: Heat, Thunder

Finals Winner: Thunder

Durant will best LeBron as the league’s MVP and deal another blow by preventing the Heat from three-peating in June. Oklahoma City will have two of the best three players in the Finals, which will be the determining factor even if Miami has three of the top five.

Sam Yip (@SamYip_NBA)

First Round Winners: Pacers, Bulls, Nets, Heat, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers Thunder

Second Round Winners: Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Thunder

Conference Finals Winners: Heat, Spurs

Finals Winner: Spurs

Although Miami has been on top of the basketball world for two straight seasons, San Antonio's roster along with their improved bench will likely dethrone the defending champions. The Spurs were one Tim Duncan layup away from winning their first title since 2007 last season. The new 2-2-1-1-1 Finals format will give the Spurs an edge with their home court advantage.

Benjamin Cantor (@BenCantor_NBA)

First Round Winners: Pacers, Heat, Nets, Bulls, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets

Second Round Winners: Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Thunder

Conference Finals Winners: Heat, Spurs

Finals Winner: Spurs

Although the Thunder have given the Spurs trouble in the past, Popovich always seems to have a way to adjust to opponents who have beaten him in the past. Last year, many people thought the Grizzlies might give the Spurs trouble because of what happened in 2011, but Pop and the Spurs clearly showed they knew what adjustments to make when they swept Memphis in the conference finals. I think San Antonio's defense against Miami in last year's finals was outstanding and this year they'll have home court advantage in the finals. 

Dan Friederg (@danfriedberg)

First Round Winners: Pacers, Bulls, Nets, Heat, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, Thunder

Second Round Winners: Pacers, Heat, Spurs, Thunder

Conference Finals Winners: Thunder, Heat

Finals Winner: Thunder

With LeBron and KD both at the peak of their powers, the role players will make the difference. Caron Butler, Jeremy Lamb, and an improving Reggie Jackson will tip the scales over an aging Ray Allen, a fragile and unproven Greg Oden, and an empty space where Mike Miller used to be. Durant will hoist his first championship trophy to go with his first MVP award, and the world shall rejoice.

The Western Conference At The Deadline

When the clock hit 3 PM EST on Thursday, basketball fans around the globe groaned as another NBA trade deadline passed without the epic blockbusters that fill the RealGM Forums. Although the deadline lacked a true blockbuster, the trades that were made (and the ones that were left on the table) will undoubtedly shift the landscape of the Western Conference playoff picture and possibly the team that will be facing the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals (It’s a lock, nobody is seriously questioning it).

The four most notable trades in the West came from the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers.

The Warriors, who picked up Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers, will look for him to provide the steady hand off the bench that they have been pursuing since Jarrett Jack left in the offseason. Blake’s addition isn’t going to drastically improve the team, but he is able to give the team quality backup point guard minutes behind Stephen Curry, given Jordan Crawford’s inability to play without Brad Stevens as his coach.

The Rockets moved little used backup point guard, Aaron Brooks, to the Denver Nuggets for Jordan Hamilton. After refusing to lower their insane asking price on Omer Asik, the Rockets decided to fill their lack of a stretch four with Hamilton. Despite Hamilton blatantly not being a power forward or an elite shooter (39 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3), the Rockets apparently believe he can become one when freed up as Dwight Howard draws attention in the post. The more important aspect to this trade is that it likely allows the Rockets to call-up D-League star, Isaiah Canaan.

The Spurs traded little used point guard Nando de Colo for Austin Daye. In one of the day’s most intriguing moves, the Spurs took on another reclamation project in the form of a 6’11 shooter who was once a top prospect coming out of high school. While Daye has struggled to earn minutes outside of his second season in the NBA (when he shot 40 percent from 3), he has tremendous length, can guard multiple positions, and San Antonio has shown interest in him. If that isn’t a sign of someone that will be playing meaningful playoff minutes in May, I am not sure what is.

The last deals of any consequence in the West were by the Clippers. They traded both Antawn Jamison and BJ Mullens for the rights to a Turkish player that probably is unaware he was traded, and a conditional second round draft pick that will likely never happen. These deals, while not interesting beyond the salary implications for the Clippers, do allow open roster spots on the team for buyout candidates. Look for Glen “Big Baby” Davis to join his old coach, Doc Rivers.

While each team above made a move – albeit small – at the trade deadline, the other five teams in contention, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies all stood pat.

Although several teams are in desperate need of a big man (OKC, PDX, PHX), no one budged on Philly’s offer of two second round draft picks for Spencer Hawes.

Portland, who is without a second round draft pick until 2019, had a tremendous need for Hawes with Joel Freeland out for two months and LaMarcus Aldridge banged up.

The Thunder flirted with a deal for Knicks embattled shooting guard, Iman Shumpert, but backed off at the last moment.

As for the remaining needs, the slew of veterans that will likely be bought out this upcoming week will have to suffice. Fortunately for these teams, Glen Davis, Caron Butler, Danny Granger, Jason Terry, Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Antawn Jamison are all buyout candidates.

Many NBA teams believe it is better to trade during the offseason so that players can get familiar with a system and their teammates, while others utilize the short second half of the season as a tryout for recently acquired players to see if they’re long-term fits. It appears that teams trading in the offseason are better off. For any fan grumbling over their team not making a blockbuster yesterday, here’s a stat you need to know: one; as in the number of Championship teams during the last 25 years to trade for a starter at the trade deadline (Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons in 2004). So while fans of the Rockets clamored for Rajon Rondo and Warriors' fans hoped for Kevin Love, just know that the odds of you winning the title with those guys was slim to none.

Happy Trade Deadline everyone! Only 124 more days until the NBA Draft!

Clippers Arenít Letting Injuries Hurt Them

As the NBA season enters its eighth week, injuries have begun to mount. As usual, some teams have been hit much harder than others. The Chicago Bulls will once again be without Derrick Rose because of a season-ending knee injury, and the Milwaukee Bucks have seen several rotation players – Larry Sanders, Carlos Delfino, Zaza Pachulia and Brandon Knight – miss significant time.

The Los Angeles Clippers have avoided a catastrophic injury, but have had their continuity stunted by nagging injuries to a handful of players. Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick, Maalik Wayns and Reggie Bullock have all been sidelined with substantial issues.

“It’s just part of basketball,” Willie Green told RealGM. “Obviously, we don’t want to have any injuries but when guys go out and sacrifice their bodies it happens. We are faced with a few injuries now, but the good thing is that we have guys that can step up. We expect to continue to win games.”

Doc Rivers is thankful that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan haven’t missed long stretches, but Barnes, Redick and Bullock are key to the team’s long-term success.

Those absences have forced the Clippers to increase Green’s minutes, while also signing Stephen Jackson to fill an active roster spot. After winning 12 of their first 17 games, Los Angeles has split eight games in the month of December.

“If anything, the injuries have hurt the timing and the rhythm of our team,” Green admitted. “It is an opportunity though for guys like myself to step up. You put a 15-man roster in place with the expectation that there are going to be a few injuries throughout the course of the season.”

Green, who played in just five of the team’s first 17 games, is averaging 22.4 minutes per game over the last eight. He has been pushed into the starting lineup seven times. He is shooting a career-low 30.6% from the field (he shot 46.1% in 2012-13) and a dreadful 25.8% from downtown.

“I’d rather our injuries happen earlier, like they have now, then later,” Green said when asked about the timing of it all. “Hopefully everyone will be healthy and at full strength going into the playoffs.”

The Clippers have been under the tutelage of Rivers for less than six months, but his reputation as a player’s coach is already paying dividends. The coach has kept the lines of communication with his players open as playing time has shifted.

“Doc is a great communicator,” Green said. “He talks to everybody about their roles and what he expects us to do on the basketball court.”

Jackson, who debuted with the Clippers last Wednesday in Boston, finds himself back on an NBA roster almost solely because of the team’s injury woes.

“I wasn’t just sitting at home, watching television and eating popcorn,” Jackson told RealGM. “I was working out, keeping the faith that something good would happen.”

Jackson can do a little bit of everything for the Clippers, but will be counted on mainly to defend and be ready whenever Rivers has to lean on him.

“It was a great pickup. We all know Jack can score; he’s a good defender,” Green said of his new teammate. “He’s an enforcer as well. We need all of those attributes right now. He’s a veteran, knows how to play the game.”

The Clippers have been able to tread water through their first 25 games, sitting fourth in the tough Western Conference heading into Monday night. They figure to only get better once Barnes and Redick return.

Barnes has only played in eight games and Redick was struggling from downtown (35.9%, down from 38.8% for his career) before suffering a broken hand. They haven’t had the worst injury luck in the NBA this season, but among those with championship aspirations the Clippers have dealt with a lot.

“We haven’t really had a full group yet because Matt Barnes really hasn’t played yet,” Jamal Crawford told RealGM. “When we get our whole team back, we like our chances against anyone.”

Speaking with four members of the Clippers last week in Boston, to a man they shrugged off excuses or adopting a ‘woe is me’ attitude. Injuries are a part of the NBA and good teams prepare for the eventuality.

“It’s part of the process,” Crawford explained. “Every team goes through injuries and stuff like that. Hopefully we get those guys back and implement them in with what we’ve done to keep it all together.”

Western Conference Twice As Good, Nine Degrees Warmer

The Western Conference is nine degrees warmer on average than the Eastern Conference, which must be considered as a factor in why it has been a far deeper conference over the past two decades.

A Brave New World For Los Angeles, New York

Strangely, none of the major market teams have the competitive advantage of their location and a top-flight organizational reputation. History and money are still (largely) on their sides but players have become more conscious of organizational quality in recent years.

30 Rapid-Fire Questions For Each Team's Front Office

The following 30 questions are the biggest issues facing each NBA front office as the 13-14 regular season begins.

30-Team Offseason Rundown

Great drafts for the Rockets, 76ers, Nets, Warriors, Hawks and Grizzlies headline this complete rundown of the 2013 offseason.

How Clippers Should Use Blake Griffin

In order to maximize his skills and their title chances, the Clippers need to use Blake Griffin more like LeBron or Durant. In order for the Clippers to win a title, Griffin will have to displace Chris Paul as their best player and DeAndrew Jordan will have to be moved.

DeAndre Jordan Took Trade Scenarios As Sign Of Respect

In DeAndre Jordanís mind, interest from other NBA teams meant he was desired in a way perhaps the Clippers didnít feel as well at times this offseason. As the Clippers pursued Kevin Garnett, Jordan was ready to move on if they pulled off a deal Ė and he took all the supposed interest as respect out of other franchises.

Grading The Deal: Clippers Trade In Bledsoe For Better Roster Balance

The Clippers have long been waiting to trade in their biggest asset in Eric Bledsoe to improve the construction of their roster and found it in the form of J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley.

2013 NBA Offseason Primer

With the 2013 NBA offseason underway, here is a primer on what all 30 teams are facing.

Leroux's 2013 NBA Draft Review

Breaking down all 30 teams by category of how they fared in the often surprising, never disappointing 2013 NBA Draft.

The End Of A Celtics' Era Regardless

A page needs to be turned and the Clippers are doing Danny Ainge and the Celtics a favor by making it impossible not to flip it and jumpstart the rebuilding process.

2013 NBA Amnesty Primer

One fun component of the Amnesty rule is that we know exactly which players are eligible for it and that number can only decrease over time since the players had to have been under contract with the same team before the new CBA.

How Many Players Teams Acquire At Each Trade Deadline On Average

The Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Thunder and Cavaliers have been the most active teams at the deadline over the past decade, while the Spurs, Pistons, Heat, Lakers and Pacers have made the fewest deals.

Paul, Parker And The Importance Of Point Guards

While some may talk about how point guards cannot be the best player on title teams, that narrow-mindedness could cause them to miss out on some of the most impactful performances the NBA sees on both a game-by-game and season-by-season basis. Those concepts may not see themselves represented any more vividly than by Chris Paul and Tony Parker.

Leroux's 2012-13 NBA Tier Predcitions

While the drop-off from the Heat to the rest of the Eastern Conference is severe, the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder have quick company in the second and third tiers.

Leroux's 30-Team Offseason Review

The Nuggets, Lakers, Heat, 76ers and Nets were amongst the teams with great offseasons, while the Bucks, Magic, Suns, Knicks, Cavaliers and Bulls were in the bad column. Here's how all 30 teams have fared in the 2012 offseason.

Team-By-Team Gold Medal Winners

The Jazz and Thunder have had the most Gold Medalists since the USA began bringing NBA players in 1992, while Duke leads amongst colleges. How do the other 29 NBA teams rank?

The NBA's Clustering Of Stars

When the All-NBA teams were expanded to include a third team in 1989, 52% of the league had a representative. In 2012, it was just 33% as the Heat, Thunder, Knicks, Lakers and Clippers had multiple representatives. The Nets will likely join them in 2013 with Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.

Older Blog Posts »

 

Basketball Wiretap Headlines

    NBA Wiretap Headlines

      NCAA Wiretap Headlines

        MLB Wiretap Headlines

          NFL Wiretap Headlines

            NHL Wiretap Headlines

              Soccer Wiretap Headlines