|2015 Regular Season
December 18th, 2015, 5:00 PM
|Prime Ticket, TNT, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
|Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
|Advanced Stats 2014-2015 Regular Season
|96.4 (12th of 30)
|93.9 (25th of 30)
|106.0 (7th of 30)
|108.2 (3rd of 30)
|103.8 (13th of 30)
|93.9 (1st of 30)
For the first time since Chris Paul's buzzer beating heroics in the first round of Game 7, the teams face off. The Clippers enter the game with a record of 16-10, winning eight of their last ten. Most recently, against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Clippers controlled the entire game, spearheaded by a 21-point, 8-assist performance by Chris Paul. Tonight's game is the start of a two game Texas-based, back-to-back road trip, with the next game against the Rockets. The Clippers have succeeded on the road recently, winners of five of the past six games.
The Spurs are 22-5, also winning eight of their last ten. This season, at home, the Spurs have been dominant. They've won 23 straight games, beating opponents by an average of 18.1 points-per-game. Their last game, against the Washington Wizards, Kawhi Leonard lead the team with 27 points with four three-pointers.
In the AT&T Center last year, the Clippers dished the Spurs their worst homeless of the season, beating them 105-85. In the first round series, Los Angeles won Game 4 on the Spurs court 114-105, and Game 6, 102-96
The majority of the starting lineups remain the same for both teams, however, each team changed major components of their roster. Head Editor of Clips Nation gets riled up about how many new guys exist on the Clippers, especially on Twitter, but there are 8 new players on the Clippers. Five newbies actually play - Wesley Johnson, Paul Pierce, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute,
Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson. This group of five averages 76.2 minutes between them. How many minutes each plays a game is highly variable, with Stephenson constantly being the victim of DNP- Coach's Decision. Stephenson's portrayed as a questionably character guy, but apparently the team loves him.
The Spurs roster features six new players compared to last years playoff team - LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyle Anderson Rasual Butler, Boban Marjanovic, Ray McCallum, Jonathon Simmons and David West. This own Fab Five averages 70.8 minutes-per-game. Exlcuding Aldridge, everyone else comes off the bench, which is one of the best in the league. The bench mob leads the all other benches with an average of 10.9 assists-per-game, per HoopsStats.com. Each new guy has played in at least 11 games, but remember, the Spurs have won 10 games by 15 or more points.
Kawhi, Kawhi Not?
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard, opened the year up as 50-1 odds to win the MVP. A longer shot by most criteria. Now, he's in the conversation. Leonard isn't flashy, both playstyle and personality wise, and commonly is laughed at for being oddly quiet and emotionless. His rise to superstardom has been very unflashy.
Everyone knows Leonard is the best defensive player in the league - sorry Draymond, but Leonard is Pippen esque. Offensively is where Kawhi's really grown. Leonard averages a team high 21 points-per-game and leads the league at 49.5-percent from deep. On post-touches, Leonard scores in the 84th percentile via NBA.com. Popovich calls more plays for Leonard than ever before. This year, with Kawhi on the floor, the Spurs offensive rating is 122 per-100 possessions, and have a defensive rating of 90, both career marks for Kawhi. If Steph ever falls back to earth, Kawhi is a serious candidate for MVP.
Chronicles of Redick
Over the past five games, J.J. Redick's averaged 20.6 points while shooting 54.8-percent from three. Over the five game stretch, J.J. averages 3.4 three's per game and scored a season high 31 points December 9th against the Bucks. Dealing with injuries off-and-on this season, Redick is slowly coming back to shape. The igniter for the Clippers offense is shooting 46.2-percent on deep for the season and has 91.9-percent of his field goals assisted by teammates.
Meeting Somewhere in the Middle
While the whole league zigs for more three point shots, the Clippers and Spurs zag. Both teams rank in the top-five in points scored from the midrange, also known as the least efficient shot by analytics. Each team has one player who shoots the majority of their shots from 10 feet out, despite being labeled as interior players. From the 10 foot to 24 foot range, Blake Griffin has shot 40-percent. From the same range, Aldridge has shot 37-percent. However, in the past 13 games, Aldridge made 47-percent of his open shots from 10 feet or further, compared to 37-percent before.