Kawhi and PG, Ben Simmons’ First Three, And Thoughts On Last Night

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The Following Are Thoughts On Last Night, November 20, 2019. 

Well, the Los Angeles Clippers are gonna be really, really good.

Last night marked the first time Kawhi Leonard and Paul George shared the court as Clippers teammates, and the duo didn’t disappoint, edging the Boston Celtics a 107-104 overtime thriller that’s been one of the best games of the young season.

And I mean, holy crap they looked solid.

Offensively, things were a little gridlocked at times and could have looked smoother, but the ability to play eight guys and never have a defensive liability ever really hit the floor (I wouldn’t say Zubac is good on that end, but for the sake of this argument, let’s say he’s above bad) was almost suffocating to watch.

Kawhi and PG are, of course, at at the tippy-top of the league’s best wing defenders list, and at this point I wonder if Patrick Beverley is one of the most talked-about defensive specialists ever (I mean, we talk Pat-Bev more than we talk about like, 10 teams. Was this the treatment Ben Wallace got?). But then there’s Moe Harkless, a multi-positional defender, and Zubac, a solid rim defender. Oh and off the bench? Here comes Montrez Harrell, JaMychal Green, and Rod McGruder, all average-to-above-average defenders that can cover multiple positions.

I mean, we knew this was what the roster was going to look like when Kawhi and PG signed this offseason, but to see it in reality…one after another, stretchy positionless grinders marching in off the bench while Doc Rivers barks around on the sideline like it’s a black-and-white movie about a dictatorial regime.

There’s a lot of room for the Clippers to grow, not to gas them up too quickly. The defense is only going to get better as guys get more familiar with each other, and could probably use a more dynamic rim defender than Zubac if they can find one around the trade deadline.

And offensively, there were some pretty clear first-game kinks to be worked out over time. Kawhi didn’t necessarily look awesome in his first game back (I love love love Kawhi, but he has stretches in games where he looks like he is 700 years old sometimes) and went just 7-for-20 from the field for 17 points. Guys just looked a little uncomfortable sorting through the Kawhi-PG dynamic at times and there were a handful of possessions here-and-there that ended with a bad shot and no passes.

Again, this is all stuff that is going to get worked out in the next few games, and crafted into something that could be really impressive by the end of the season. There were also plenty of possessions that ended like this:

(Kawhi is such a weird athlete to watch sometimes)

But obviously it’s only going to develop. George looks virtually entirely back from his shoulder surgeries and has said as much both in the press and through his play (he’s averaging 28.3 PPG, 6.3 Rbd, 4.8 Ast on .530/.471/.931 shooting splits, uhhhhh maybe they did give him new shoulders?). And there are enough assets to tinker with to add some potentially really meaningful contributors for the stretch run.

Elsewhere, In The East…

HE DID ITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

Yes after 5800+ minutes, 2000+ two-pointers, 172 games, 17 dreadful attempts, and 3 long pitiful years, Ben Simmons splashed home a three-pointer early in the 1st quarter last night.

Of course, against the Knicks.

The Wells Fargo Center hilariously erupted in an ovation that lasted, no joke, a couple of possessions, and the Sixers bench started running around like it was the dunk contest, but by golly he did it.

This is really all he has to do, shoot wide-open corner threes, and it could unlock an almost universally more effective version of Simmons I’d be really interested in seeing. And I’m sure his recently minted $170 million contract would too.

It’s worth noting that after a summer in which he could not stop talking about how this year would be different, having “rediscovered his love for The Game” , the attempt was Simmons first of the season. So 1-for 1!

I don’t really care if Simmons shoots or doesn’t shoot, but you can’t tell the cool kids you’re going to jump off the bridge and then chicken out when you look over the ledge. Either do it or don’t, at some point we gotta go home.

Goodie Bag For The Road

  • The Knicks gave up a second-half 17 point lead to lose against the Sixers, The Gods themselves were not denying Ben Simmons last night.
  • FADE THE SPURS, PAY YOUR RENT
  • Duncan Robinson, who Dan Dakich has openly campaigned for his daughter to date for years on broadcasts (weird he doesn’t campaign for ANYONE ELSE, HMM), dropped 29 and the Heat kicked the crap out of Cleveland.
  • Luka Doncic, holy crap.

Day basketball on Thursday, so make sure to hammer Miami -7.5 against Missouri State!

 

 

 

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