The Los Angeles Clippers are in the unique position of being 1 and 1/2 games behind the 5th seeded Memphis Grizzlies, yet by virtue of leading the Pacific Division by 6 1/2 games, they are firmly entrenched in the 4th seed.
The Clippers defeated the Lakers in the battle of Los Angeles Sunday afternoon, 109-95. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul each had 24, while Jamal Crawford had 20 off the bench as the Clippers did their best to spite the league and keep the Lakers out of the playoffs.
Clippers probable starting lineup:
PG Chris Paul
SG Willie Green
SF Caron Butler
PF Blake Griffin
C DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is making 10.5 million dollars this season and is carrying averages of 8 points, 8 rebounds, .4 blocks, .6 steals and is shooting 9% from the free throw line in 24 minutes a game over his last 5. (8, 7, 1, .3, and 28% in 24 minutes for March.)
Their 3-point shooting rundown:
Green is shooting 70% from 3 over the last 5 games and 42% from 3 on the season.
Butler is at 42% from 3 over the last 5 and 38% on the season.
Reserve, Matt Barnes is at 42% over the last 5 and 35% on the season.
Crawford is at 30% over the last 5 and 37% on the season.
Paul is 30% and 33%.
Eric Bledsoe’s production has fallen off a cliff since being anointed the best (not starting) point guard in the league. Part of this is due to the fact that CP3 is back — Bledsoe’s minutes have fallen from 25 to 14 a game. Another reason could be he is sharing the 2nd unit backcourt with Crawford.
Chauncey Billups practiced Tuesday, but won’t return against the Wolves.
Wolves probable starting lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Luke Ridnour
SF Andrei Kirilenko
PF Derrick Williams
C Nikola Pekovic
Pek, Rubio and Williams combined to go 4-26 from the floor last night against Golden State, combining for 15 points. Without strong performances from Ridnour and Kirilenko, it’s difficult to overcome that against anyone, it’s much less possible while giving up 30 points on 19 shots to Klay Thompson (a guy who shot 41% from the floor and 44% from 3 in March). While it’s easy to point out holes in the Wolves lineup, that’s exactly what the Warriors did Tuesday — they went at Ridnour on offense and dared Ricky to shoot it on defense.
The mystery that is Harrison Barnes dominance of AK is much less, when you consider D-Will’s goose egg in rebounds. The game was called loosely down low and Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Barnes took advantage while D-Will wanted no part of it. It’s tempting to think what difference Kevin Love would make on the outcomes of certain matchups, if he were available, but the lack of fight by the Wolves — save the chipiness of Ridnour on Thompson in the 3rd — could be more closely related to a lack of ability (or confidence) to spread the floor on offense that allowed the Warriors to pack the paint and gang up on the boards. The beauty of pining for Love’s presence being: he can both space and eat glass.
D-Will and the rest of Minnesota’s front line have another challenge versus Griffin and Jordan. The Clips, while not as accurate as Golden State (36% from 3) like to chuck it up 9th most in the league (over 21 3pa a game).