The Big Picture:
After exiting a summer of change as one of the NBA’s premier mystery teams, the Clippers have quickly fulfilled many expectations, both good and bad. The good is evidenced by two wipeout wins over inferior opponents. Some say that the best measure of a quality team is any win over another quality team, but others have noted that blowing out bottom-feeders — a title for which the Lakers and Suns both qualify — is just as indicative of future success. No matter which school you subscribe to, there’s no debating that the Clippers ably handled the teams they’ve faced so far.
The bad is the early validation of critics’ legitimate injury concerns. Milos Teodosic is already down for an indefinite period, and he didn’t even crack the list of “Top Two Clippers Most Likely To Miss Significant Time”, which might be the worst Bleacher Report post never written. The four-man guard rotation just got a little thinner, and we’ll get a glimpse of Doc Rivers’ adjusted strategy. Will he shorten the bench or will he trust an unproven player? The Clippers’ season just shifted to a higher difficulty level.
The Utah Jazz share more in common with the Clippers than just their recent first-round playoff pairing. They too are coping with the loss of a franchise star by shifting into something a little unrecognizable. Gone is swingman Gordon Hayward and into his place — sort of — comes the luxuriantly maned Ricky Rubio.
The Jazz share another thing with the Clippers: they’re off to an impressive start of their own, notching two wins and making a close game of the other. Where their start differs from the Clippers’ is in the quality of their competition. The Jazz have faced off against three teams from the West’s meaty middle. Well, the Clippers won’t be dealing with scraps any longer.
- The Schedule: The Clippers play their first genuine road game on Thursday night in Portland, before returning for a Saturday-night home tilt with the Pistons. Halloween looms, but not before the Warriors.
- Clippings: Rodney Hood has missed two of Utah’s three games so far, but has been upgraded to questionable for tonight’s game after practicing yesterday... Old Clips Nation favorite and literature enthusiast Ekpe Udoh is getting his minutes in Utah... A big challenge for the Clippers tonight: protect the ball... Our fearless leader muses about Eric Bledsoe.
- For more on the Jazz, check out the excellently named SLC Dunk.