The Clippers have very little at stake in the seeding games. Without homecourt advantage, the distinction between the No. 2 and the No. 3 seed is merely window dressing as the team ramps up to the playoffs, and the team hasn’t had its whole roster available to treat these contests as dress rehearsals for the postseason.
That’s why there’s really no need to despair when the Clippers use strange lineups that will never see the floor during a playoff game; this time really only serves to ramp up for the postseason, and the main goal is to keep everyone healthy.
Still, with all those caveats, it has been strange to see Joakim Noah essentially fall out of the rotation. After playing ten minutes in the seeding game opener, Noah only played in garbage time against the Pelicans and then spelled Ivica Zubac for 1:45 against Dallas. It seemed Noah might have a place on the Clippers with his defensive pedigree and his specific set of offensive skills — in particular, his ability to pass out of the short roll was highly lauded during the scrimmages. However, Noah has been an afterthought, only exceeding Amir Coffey in total minutes. Without Montrezl Harrell in the bubble, there was an opportunity for Noah to seize some backup center minutes, but he hasn’t.
Part of the problem for Noah is that Zubac has expanded his role in the bubble, playing five more minutes per game. The Clippers have also gone all-in on JaMychal Green at the five, and he has been on fire from distance, giving the team a true stretch five by shooting 51.9% from 3-point range.
The Clippers made it a point to tell anyone who was listening that Noah would play a role on this team. Maybe that’s just as a locker room leader for Zubac, who has been killing it. But if there was ever a chance to find a place for Noah on the court, these games would have been the time to do that. Instead, Noah has been riding the bench, and it’s unclear if or when that will change during the rest of the 2019-20 season.
Am I overthinking this? Or is it weird that the Clippers have given Terance Mann, Rodney McGruder, and Patrick Patterson extended minutes while leaving Noah on the shelf?
More news for Tuesday:
- Jovan Buha gives the 10 most important Clippers takeaways from the restart so far.
- Zach Kram went through each bubble team’s crunch-time lineups.
- Marc Stein had a lovely piece on the six teams staying in the Yacht Club hotel, fighting for a playoff spot and not too happy to keep seeing one another when they come home from work.
- More Than a Vote is trying to get every NBA arena (as well as other pro sports venues) turned into a polling place for election day.
- Have you wondered why NBA players are wearing “Group Economics” on their jerseys? Michael Pina found the reason.