Andrew Greif: Sidelined since March 14, Serge Ibaka has been upgraded to *questionable* to play tonight in Houston. OUT: PG (rest), Kawhi Leonard (rest), Terance Mann (personal reasons), Pat Beverley (injury management), Amir Coffey (protocols) Doubtful: Reggie Jackson (sore left Achilles)
Storyline: Load Management
On the TV front, the New York Knicks delivered a big number for ESPN in Sunday’s win over the Clippers, reaping a 1,587,000 cable audience per Showbuzz, the biggest NBA viewership of that week. I say the Knicks delivered it because I’ve seen little evidence this season that the Clippers really move the needle. The impressive number is likely more of an indication that Thibodeau-mania is hitting our nation’s largest city, as the sport’s biggest and most easily excited fanbase rises to attention. That’s great news for the NBA, as the Knicks get set to play in the postseason.
Storyline: TV Ratings
How significant is it that the Clippers are threatening the record for most accurate 3-point shooting season, at least in the current version of the line? Partnow: It’s never bad to be an all-time shotmaking team! It looks like it’s going to come down to the wire between these Clippers and the 73-win Warriors for the highest 3-point field goal percentage in a non-short line season. Worth noting that the league as a whole is in a much kinder shooting environment this season than that 15-16 season. League average has been 36.7 percent this year, the all-time record, compared to 35.4 percent in 15-16, more in line with normal ranges. So that Warriors team was significantly more accurate relative to the competition than LA this year.
The Clippers are also threatening to break the record for best free-throw-shooting team in NBA history (83.9 percent; current record set by 2019-20 Suns at 83.4 percent, who edged 1989-90 Celtics mark of 83.2 percent). Are shooting percentages enough to describe this year’s Clippers as a historically great shooting team? What other shooting categories should be considered? The Clippers are flirting with being only the third team to have a season True Shooting Percentage of 60 percent or higher. Those same Warriors held the record prior to this season, but the Nets are currently on pace to surpass the Golden State mark of 60.3 percent, sitting at 60.9 percent with LA at 60.0 percent. The Clippers currently have the fourth-highest Effective Field Goal Percentage ever, but similar to the above note about 3-point shooting, the fact that two of three teams ahead of their pace are also from this season indicates the degree to which the entire league is scoring at historically silly rates.