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Washington 105 – Indiana 107 (Washington +6)
Atlanta 110 – Oklahoma City 108 (Atlanta +2)
Detroit 82 – Chicago 113 (Chicago -2.5)
Phoenix 108 – Minnesota 115 (Minnesota -5.5)
Dallas 107 – Denver 117 (Denver -8.5)
Blake Griffin and Clint Capela Both Ruled Out For Up To Six Weeks
Big news out of the West yesterday. Two of the top contenders lost major pieces for the next month and a half or so.
While this is by no means a death knell for either the Clippers or Rockets, it’s still significant. December and January games can seem unimportant at times, but wins and losses count all the same in the standings. Assuming the Warriors remain atop the Western Conference, there’s a massive difference between the second or third seed and a likely second round matchup with San Antonio, as opposed to the fourth seed and a likely second round matchup with Golden State.
These next six weeks could very well determine that difference for Los Angeles (20-8) and Houston (21-7), who currently sit one game apart in the standings.
Griffin is the better player between the two. Few would argue that. He’s played some of the best basketball of his career this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. And while he won’t likely see many MVP votes in one of the deepest races in years, he’s reestablished himself as a top ten, top fifteen player in today’s game.
Yet the case can be made that Capela’s loss will hurt more over this stretch. He’s in many ways the lynchpin of this Rockets team. Offensively, his ability to work with Harden in the pick and roll is the focal point of that offense. His athleticism and ability to finish on lobs has opened up that entire system. Harden has room to drive and lanes to exploit, and shooters like Anderson, Ariza, and Gordon have more room to fire when defenders sink in to help.
Defensively, Capela is just as important. Known mostly for his defense at the rim, he’s been equally impressive switching out onto smaller players in the pick and roll. While this Rockets team has been lauded for their offensive prowess, it’s their 14th-ranked defense that’s in many ways spurred on the ten game win streak. With low quality defenders like Harden and Anderson playing heavy minutes, it makes the work of guys like Capela, Ariza, and Beverley that much more important.
Houston undoubtedly has depth. Nene and Montrezl Harrell will take Capela’s minutes for now. But neither can fill the roll he played on this Rockets team.
The Clippers have less options in replacing Griffin. Paul Pierce is 39-years-old and, unsurprisingly, playing the worst basketball of his career. He’s appeared in just 7 games this season, averaging only 11.6 minutes per outing. Brandon Bass is on the downside of his career as well, and has appeared in just half the Clippers games this season. The remainder of the power forward minutes will likely be filled out by a rotations of wings as the Clippers go small around DeAndre Jordan.
Yet despite how difficult that may seem, the Clippers have had success without Griffin in the past. This is the third straight season he’ll have missed extended time, so it’s nothing new.
Time will tell who’s loss means more to their respective teams. Right now, both Houston and Los Angeles care only about maintaining a respectable record over the next fifteen to twenty games. With both Utah and Memphis nipping at their heels, neither can afford to fall towards .500 over this stretch.
This Is A V Good Vine And Caption
Gabrielle Union does not agree
Russ Can’t Do It All On His Own
As impressive as 46-11-7 is — and yes, it’s really really impressive, stop calling it stat chasing — it’s not enough. However you feel about Victor Oladipo, the Thunder need him.
Now 1-3 since losing Oladipo in Boston, it’s clear that the Thunder need another guy next to Russ every night.
Russ can win the occasional game all by himself. Russ can post sublime stats every night. Russ can do almost anything he wants on the court. But the Thunder aren’t going to see sustained success without another dynamic scorer next to him.
Also, please stop taking fading three point attempts at the end of the game Russ because I’m pretty sure you’ve missed every single one you’ve taken this season.
JUUUUST A Bit Too Late
Look far be it from me to criticize anyone for being late. If I post HHR two hours past the time I want to that’s a win for me. But good god Steven, have a little clock awareness for me. I mean how in the world can you possibly think you have enough time to catch that ball, bring it down, gather yourself, jump, and then hold onto the ball all the way through a dunk? I don’t think I’m exaggerating here when I say you let that ball go a full minute after the buzzer sounded. Outrageous lack of awareness on what should have been a very makable putback.
This Was Pretty
Credit where credit is due, this was a beautiful little two man game from Korver and Millsap to hit the go ahead bucket in Atlanta.
Speaking Of Clutch…
Paul George just put the absolute WORK on John Wall and the Wiz down the stretch last night. Big shot after big shot in the fourth, including this pretty little move on Wall to put them up seven in the fourth
But it was actually Thad Young hitting an ridiculous bucket with 0.9 left for the win. And a healthy Indy team is very, very slowly starting to climb the standings in a crowded East. Keep an eye on this.
Big time game from Nikola Jokic last night. If and when the Nuggets finally decide to move some guys in the frontcourt and give him more run, this dude is gonna be a star.