Recap: Clippers-Cavaliers in 15 Quick Thoughts


Fun fun fun.

Outside of a victory, you couldn’t have asked more from this game. There were highlights galore, impressive individual performances, team debuts (hi Austin), mentions of nepotism, and whatever flies under the son.

Instead of the typical recap, I decided to throw out 15 quick thoughts on the matchup based on statistics, opinion, and whatever else I could come across, so without further ado, here you go:

1) In the battle of superstars, the Clippers came up a bit short: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 69 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists while Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for 49 points, 18 rebounds and 17 assists (this deficit is partly due to an off night from CP3 who shot 4-of-15 from the field).

2) By allowing 126 points to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the Clippers are now ranked third in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors in 120+ point games allowed, behind the Minnesota Timberwolves/Philadelphia 76ers (6), and Los Angeles Lakers/Phoenix Suns (5). It’s safe to say, this won’t be on the reel when Doc Rivers attempts to sell writers on voting DeAndre Jordan as Defensive Player of the Year.

3) The Austin Rivers experiment is off to an awful start. Honestly, awful may not be a good enough word to describe the kid’s play — in 11 minutes, Rivers went 0-4 from the field (including an embarrassing air-balled corner-3) and in those 11 minutes, the Clippers were outscored by 18 points (only Jamal Crawford has a worse plus-minus with -19.

4) The last Clippers player to go 0-for in their team debut in at least 11 minutes of playing time? Former first-round pick Eric Gordon who scored 2 points on 0-4 shooting, 2 assists and 1 rebound in 14 minutes of playing time.

5) Alongside Austin Rivers, wing Dahntay Jones debuted for the Clippers also, doing little in 4 minutes of play. Jones showed some good strides defensively though one possession ended with LeBron James draining a long jump shot over his head. Can’t blame him for that.

6) I’ve been very bullish on David Blatt as a head coach, but his “hack-a-Jordan” method in the third quarter completely altered the trajectory of this game. Before the fouls came in droves, the Clippers were rolling, looking like a team who’d revel in a days work. For it to be done in a quarter outside of the fourth, Blatt’s decision was quite unorthodox, but it was the right one and one of his best decisions on the season.

7) Something that caught my eye: with no true Reggie Bullock replacement (that sounds odd to say), Doc Rivers went with a three-guard lineup of Austin Rivers-Chris Paul-Jamal Crawford early in the game. This could be a look we see more tomorrow against the Kings, or at least until a viable replacement is found (could be Jones or Darius Miller).

8) While we may not get Pacquiao-v-Mayweather anytime, we were awfully close to Mayweather vs. Matt Barnes, as it was reported the two athletes exchanged words during the game:

9) Speaking of Matt Barnes, tonight was the perfect example of the feeling illustrated in this piece I wrote about the forward a few weeks back: even on a night that’s pretty much perfect for him (17 points, 8 rebounds), it didn’t feel like enough. Sucks to see this happen to a forward who lays it all out on the floor for this team.

10) Facing his former team, Spencer Hawes scored 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting, his first 9+ point outing since 2014 (December 31st to be exact).

11) On a Cavaliers-related tip, that extended rest LeBron James received as he rehabbed from injury has done wonders for his play. He’s quicker on the perimeter than he was earlier in the season and seems to have that edge we saw from him in Miami. The Cavaliers as a whole haven’t impressed, but if James can play like he has the past two games (the engaged part), we could see this team rip off a nifty mid-season run.

12) An interesting exclusion from tonight’s lineup? No Glen Davis. I’m not sure what it means in the grand scheme of things, but he was an odd out against the Cavs.

13) Beat the Portland Trail Blazers. Fall to the Kevin Love-less Cleveland Cavaliers. One step forward, three steps back, the theme of this season so far.

14) For those who care, the Clippers are now 6.5 games behind the Warriors for tops in the Pacific Division after Golden State dropped one to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

15) The Clippers are now 8-11 against .500 or above teams.

Next Up: 01/17 @ Sacramento Kings (16-23)