Cover photo from ESPN.com
Basketball is Back
On March 11, 2020, the world seemed to pause. For Clippers fans, but also sports fans everywhere. For the first time in recent memory, there were no sports. No games, no practices, no training camps. Nothing.
Since then the world has fought a global pandemic, united over systematic racism, and prepared for another election season. Needless to say, sports have been missed.
Finally, the time has come. The NBA secured their location in Orlando, FL. They’ve laid the ground rules and brought in the teams. Now it’s time to play ball.
The format of the NBA return has been set. It includes eight ‘regular season’ games to help round out the playoff field. This gives those teams with a fighting chance at the playoffs one last shot at making it in. Then the 8th and 9th seed will do battle for the final spot in each conference if there are less than four games separating the two. The postseason will then progress per usual.
First however, a few scrimmage games will be played to knock off the rust before the games that matter begin.
The Clippers tipped off the NBA bubble with their first scrimmage against the Orlando Magic. This would be fan’s first chance to see what basketball in the bubble would be like. There were no fans, spread out benches, and missing rotation players on both sides. All of these are aspects fans will have to get used to for the duration of the restart.
Game Recap: Clippers vs Magic
LAC came into the first game missing four of their main rotation players for a variety of reasons. Two starters in Patrick Beverley and Ivica Zubac, and two bench players in Montrezl Harrell and Landry Shamet. Beverley and Harrell both left the bubble within a few weeks of entering to attend family emergencies, while Shamet is quarantining/recovering from testing positive from COVID-19. Zubac’s reason for not entering the bubble has not yet been disclosed.
Nevertheless, the Clippers still managed to field a championship contending team. Pickups like Reggie Jackson and Joakim Noah help to plug any injury/absence concerns. The starting five consisted of Reggie Jackson – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris Sr. – Joakim Noah.
George, Leonard, and Morris all accounted for 19 minutes each. Morris and Leonard had a little rust to knock off. Both shot 3/8 from the field and scored 9 points each. George on the other hand came out of the gates swinging.
His 6/13 shooting included 4/8 from deep and 18 points, the most of any starter. He played with his usual smooth rhythm and let the game come to him. He was not forcing shots from the perimeter or through defenders in the paint. George had a beautiful bounce pass in the midst of a dribble-drive that led to Noah’s first points as a Clipper. Jackson did exactly what was need of him as a replacement for the missing Beverley. He shot 57% from the field and tallied nine points, two rebounds, and two assists in his 18 minutes of action.
With Jackson and Noah in the starting five and Harrell and Shamet absent from the contest, one might expect a drop off in production from the Clippers’ bench. That expectation would be wrong. Lou Williams did what he does best, shooting 54% from the field and scoring a team high 22 points. He didn’t have usual bench mob running mate, Harrell, but he was about to dish out a pair of assists playing alongside the available reserves. This included: JaMychal Green, Amir Coffey, Patrick Patterson, and Rodney McGruder. Green led the team in minutes played with 25 while contributing five points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Everyone that stepped on the court also stepped into their role. The entire team scored at least three points each and grabbed a minimum of two rebounds.
That’s what I call well-rounded, team basketball.
Clippers Road Ahead
The Clippers are set to play a few more scrimmage games with the Wizards (7/25) and Kings (7/27) before the NBA restart officially begins. I predict the Clippers will win both of these games depending on how many players are available for action.
Then, on July 30th, the long awaited NBA restart kicks off with Clippers vs Lakers at 9 pm EST. This is a massive game as many fans predict this year’s champion will come out of Los Angeles one way or the other. Our thoughts are with absent players like Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell as they handle their family matters. Hopefully all goes well and they are able to return to the team before the playoffs begin.
Also be sure to check out the forums page to get in on the discussion!
Follow me @Panamaniac03 for more NBA and NCAA content!
Check out our partners at Repp Sports! They offer the first-ever crowd-sourced, no carb, no sugar, energy drink called RAZE and much more! Use the link above or add the promo code OTH1 for 30% off at checkout!