The Big Picture
The Clippers have gone 2-4 since Chris Paul injured his thumb against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 16. However, the near future seems promising due to CP3 returning to practice this week. Despite the fact that the beloved point guard will be back on the hardwood soon, the Clippers still haven’t quite figured out how to consistently win without him. In good news, Blake Griffin is back to playing like himself and LA took a 10-point win against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, putting them at 31-18 overall. Sunday will be the first match-up of the season between the Clippers and Celtics.
The Celtics are currently in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, but they aren’t as scary as that makes them sound. The Clippers have the same winning percentage as the Celtics, yet they sit at No. 4 in the West. Obviously this is due to the super-human Golden State warriors setting the bar at a high 42-7 to lead the Western conference, but that’s a different conversation for another time. Boston’s Isaiah Thomas is averaging 29.7 points and 6.4 assists per game, which will present a major challenge defensively for Austin Rivers and Raymond Felton. Thomas dropped 44 points against the Raptors on Wednesday, and has continued to outscore every Celtics player since early December. Boston is currently on a five-game winning streak after taking a 109-104 win over Toronto at home on Wednesday.
Jamal’s Back: Jamal Crawford hasn’t been sidelined, but he may as well have been. Towards the end of December and throughout the month of January, Crawford was scoring low numbers and shooting a low field-goal percentage. In Los Angeles’ game against the Atlanta Hawks on January 23, Crawford showed us that he may be back to his old ways. The shooting guard dropped 19 points against the Hawks, and followed that performance up with a 27-point game against the Philadelphia Sixers on the 24th.
Utilize the big men: The Clippers have a good mix of scorers, unlike the Celtics. Los Angeles’ big men contribute more points than that of the Celtics. Blake Griffin is averaging 21.1 points per game, Deandre Jordan is averaging 12.3 per game and Marreese Speights is dropping 10 per game. That’s a lot of scoring coming from the frontcourt for the Clippers. Boston’s Al Horford is averaging 15.3 points per game, alongside Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk who are averaging 14.2 and 8.7 points per game, respectively.
Homecoming: Paul Pierce, who played the first 15 seasons of his career as a Celtic, will now be visiting Boston for the final time as an NBA player. He was a 10-time All-Star as a Celtic, and was the NBA Finals MVP for Boston’s 2008 NBA Championship—Doc Rivers’ sole title as a head coach.