What Gives? Pac Div – Warriors-Clippers rivalry, the future of Cousins
Golden State Warriors (51-13, 1st in West) – The loss to the Nuggets with a depleted team aside, the Warriors were perfect in their victories over the Clippers, Suns and the Pistons.
Much discussion was made about the bump made by Dahntay Jones on Draymond Green in the post-game interview. (Jones was promptly fined $10,000 USD by the league for his “accidental” contact) While this led to some additional dialogue between Green and Doc Rivers, these two teams surely need no additional fireworks to add to their developed rivalry.
On the topic of Green, he has improved on his scoring significantly in the month of March, averaging 14.6 points at 45.5% shooting. This improvement coincided with David Lee taking a couple of healthy DNPs, which can only signal in favor of Green.
As the loss to the Nuggets indicated, Steve Kerr will be resting more players as the season draws to a close. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, but it will be welcome news to Golden State fans to know that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson should be healthy and ready to go come playoffs time. With a match-up with Oklahoma City Thunder or the New Orleans Pelicans looming barring any late slip up, it would be a fast paced game regardless of the opponent and the Dubs will need their shooters ready to go.
Los Angeles Clippers (42-24, 5th in West) – Brutal losses to the Warriors and the Mavericks, but the Clippers still managed to take victories over teams they should have won in the Thunder and the Timberwolves.
Blake Griffin’s return is near, and boy do the Clippers need him back. With the athletic big man out, J.J Redick had taken on the scoring load, scoring at least 17 points in each of the last four games. Much like Kyle Korver in Atlanta, Redick’s shooting makes life a lot easier for the rest of the team and it would be valuable for the Clippers to keep the shooting guard from Duke in top condition entering the playoffs.
The rivalry with the Warriors aside, it was concerning to see the Clippers lose big to Dallas when they hold virtually identical records. The absence of Griffin and Jamal Crawford definitely hurt them in this particular game, and Los Angeles will have to wait until the playoffs to get revenge.
On the bright side, teams should now watch out for DeAndre!
Phoenix Suns (34-33, 10th in West) – Predictable losses to the Cavaliers, Warriors and the Hawks meant the win over Minnesota was their only one of the week.
As Oklahoma City and New Orleans continue to pile up the wins, it is up to Phoenix to maintain the pace. Unfortunately, they will face playoff teams in seven of their next ten games.
Phoenix have dusted off and unleashed T.J Warren, the rookie from NC State, as they continue to search for scoring off the bench since Gerald Green lost his touch. Marcus Thornton, Archie Goodwin and Reggie Bullock are all given opportunities but their best hope lies in Warren, a player known for his scoring even from college days.
Phoenix’s issues lies in the fact that they are discovering themselves in the midst of the season after trading away Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic, arguably two of their best three players. Marcus Morris is the newest member of the starting line-up and Eric Bledsoe is now the undoubted leader of the team, but the latter has to do better in keeping hold of the ball (5.25 TOPG last week).
Sacramento Kings (22-42, 13th in West) – Losses to the Heat, Hawks and 76ers and a win over the Hornets summarises a typical week for the Kings.
Another losing season for the Kings means changes will be coming once again to Sleep Train Arena. In terms of changes on the floor, Carl Landry has been promoted in place of Jason Thompson in the starting line-up after not playing in the previous two games. Landry is a good player and his game complements DeMarcus Cousins well, but he is clearly not expected to be anything more than a spot starter, averaging less than 20 minutes a game.
On the topic of Cousins, he is on track to having a career season with averages of 23.6 PPG, 12.4 RPG ad 1.2 BPG. While he has a four-year contract remaining, it is anyone’s guess as to how long he would like to stay in Sacramento, with fan speculation that a trade with the big man for New York Knicks’ first-round pick that would serve both sides well. I personally feel that Cousins, rated by most as the second best young big man behind Anthony Davis, deserves a higher price tag than that, but stranger things have happened in the NBA.
On the court, defense remains as Sacramento’s biggest issue: they conceded at least 105 points in all four games last week. But then again, what would you expect from a team that features no defensive-oriented player?
Los Angeles Lakers (17-47, 14th in West) – Losses to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and (gasp) the Knicks overshadows the lone win over Detroit. Furthermore, the Lakers are now eliminated from playoffs contention, although you should not be surprised.
The balanced scoring that I praised about the Lakers in the last column remains this week, as at least five players reached double-digits in scoring in every game. While it is unclear whether the players are working hard for coach Byron Scott or for their next contract, at least everyone is contributing hard, which should (hopefully) gain the approval of Kobe for some of them to return next season.
What’s that, Kobe?