The Big Picture
The Clippers got a much-needed gift on Saturday night when Ty Lue decided to rest LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. While that was surely a bummer for fans that paid to get into Staples that night, it did grant the Clips the opportunity to get back into the win column.
Heading into play tonight, the Jazz lead LA by two games for the No. 4 spot in the West. LAC has fallen seven back of Houston for the three spot, but lead the Thunder by just a half-game and the Grizzlies by one game for the No. 5 position.
With the Warriors having pulled back to two games up on the Spurs for the top spot, falling to the seventh seed wouldn’t necessarily be the worst first-round fate for the Clippers. They’ve matched up well against the Spurs in the past, and that could potentially allow them to avoid Golden State until the conference finals.
That’d likely just be delaying the inevitable, of course, but hey, conference finals appearance!
Where do we even start with the Knicks? They’re, predictably, a mess. As it turns out, trading for past-his-prime Derrick Rose and dumping more than $70 million on a broken down Joakim Noah doesn’t turn you into a Superteam. It doesn’t even make you a playoff team.
Carmelo Anthony is still here, for some reason. We don’t know if the Clippers balked at the chance to get him before the trade deadline, or if the Knicks just didn’t want what little the Clips could really offer, but he’s still chucking 19 shots a night for the 12th-best team in the East.
A couple of bright spots for New York this season have been Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez. Porzingis has built off of his solid rookie campaign and is pretty clearly the future of this franchise. Hernangomez, meanwhile, has come on strong since Noah was lost for the season. This could be New York’s frontcourt for the next decade.
The only other meeting between the Clips and Knicks this season was that weird night in February when Charles Oakley got ejected from Madison Square Garden and subsequently arrested. LAC wound up pulling out a 119-115 win, even without Chris Paul.
The Fancy Table
Matchup to Watch
DeAndre Jordan vs. Willy Hernangomez
For whatever reason, DeAndre Jordan has made a habit of feasting on the Knicks. Jordan has double-doubled in five of his last six outings against NY, including a boffo 28-point, 15-rebound effort back in February. DJ doesn’t score 20 points in a game very often, yet he’s done it in two of his last three showings against the Knicks.
Hernangomez is one of the few players in the league that seems to be in Jordan’s stratosphere when it comes to crashing the glass. The rookie has a rebound rate of 20.4 percent this season (per Basketball Reference), while Jordan ranks second in the league with a REB% of 23.9. Had Hernangomez played enough minutes to qualify this season, he’d rank eighth in the league in rebound rate.
Game Day Song of Choice
The Knicks and Clippers will get things going from Staples Center at 7:30pm PT. Catch the game locally on Prime Ticket or nationally on TNT.