Clippers are at the doorstep of history. Can they cross the threshold?

Here we are once again, friends. knee-deep in controversial NBA playoff basketball and last night’s Clippers/Jazz matchup layed the groundwork for another opportunity at history. Fresh off of a pivotal Game 5 win in Salt Lake, The Los Angeles Clippers (once again) find themselves just one win shy of the franchise’s first Western Conference Finals appearance.

The community surrounding L.A.’s “other” team knows the signifigance of this achievement but ask Kawhi Leonard what a WCF means to him (skip to 4:41):

Kawhi asked about potential WCF

While the franchise has been eyeing this stage for roughly a decade, the two-time NBA Champion keeps his eye on ultimate prize.

Three out of the last seven seasons have reached this precipice for L.A. with two devastating 3-1 collapses in 2015 (Houston) and 2020 (Denver). Times change, players change, but what ultimately does not change is exponential difficulty of closing out a 7-game playoff series in the NBA (most likely without the services of Kawhi).

ESPN Statistics

Leonard has been a bell cow for Los Angeles offensively and defensively. Simply put, he leaves a gaping maw of production for other members of the squad to fill. Injury news that ‘The Klaw’ tweaked his knee late in Game 4 would alter the perception of this second round series. Local fans and NBA enthusiasts alike wondered if the Clippers would even have an identity Wednesday night in Utah.

Paul George was the identity.

PG heard the noise 🤫

Originally tweeted by NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) on June 17, 2021.

One of the more slandered superstar players in recent history answered when the bell tolled. Paul George finished with a line of 37 | 16 | 5 10/11 FT and put the team on his back much like that of his injured counterpart. PG-13 and Co. displayed great defensive adjustment in the second half curtailing Bojan Bogdanović’s impressive night to 32 and restricting a hobbled Donovan Mitchell to 21 after monster performances in previous games. Utah hit 17 3’s (51 points) in the first half of Game 5 but would only have 9 points from deep in the second half.

Head Coach Tyronn Lue also deserves credit for making in-series and in-game adjustments to optimize the performance of his ball club. Reggie Jackson has been the best PG on the floor for LAC in this series and as a result saw 37 minutes of action again Wednesday tallying 22 | 2 | 3 2STL/2TO. Jackson has played 25+ minutes in 10 of 12 games this postseason after seeing a grand total of 33 minutes in last year’s 7 game series against the Nuggets.

Lue has also adjusted his lineup accordingly against Utah by limiting the number of minutes C Ivaca Zubac has played. Both in last year’s Orlando bubble and this year’s playoffs, the opposition’s talent at C has been superior to L.A.’s causing a mismatch for Lue to remedy. Veteran PF Nic Batum saw more minutes than anyone on the roster in Game 5 with 42. Furthermore, Rookie Terrance Mann has helped the Clippers go smaller when 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert looms under the basket.

Mann met Gobert at the rim late in Game 5 for the vicious dunk and subsequent mean mug.

TERRANCE MANN YAMMED ON RUDY GOBERT. 🤯😱

Originally tweeted by House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) on June 17, 2021.

It has been another up and down playoffs for the Clippers overall, working into 0-2 holes to start both series. Even so, the Clips have responded thus far and now hold a 3-2 series lead, one victory from a date with the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.

Looking Ahead: all the pressure is on Los Angeles to close out the series at home, as Charles Barkley alluded to during his postgame comments on TNT.

“Their Game 6 is Game 7.”

Chuck on the Clippers’ mentality heading into next game.

Originally tweeted by NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) on June 17, 2021.

The Clippers got a “free swing” at the Jazz without Kawhi Leonard becuase no one expected them to win. Now, they must handle their business at home or face a potential Game 7 on the road. In rebuttle to Barkley’s point about a “free swing”, the Clippers did get to play more freely but also deserve credit for finding a way to win a high-octane basketball game. Utah did not mail this game in. Bogey was a flamethrower from deep and some of Donovan’s fatigue/limitation can be accredited to the aggressive style of basketball Los Angeles plays. Charles is correct in the respect that L.A. could go out and play without limits, but this game instilled confidence that the Clippers are good enough to beat Utah WITHOUT Kawhi Leonard regardless of their ability to replicate the experiment. That will be the true test if Kawhi is not available for Game 6. If the Clippers fail to handle business Friday at STAPLES, a raucous and overwhelming Vivint Arena awaits them in Game 7.

If you are the Clippers, as Chuck pointed out, DO NOT LET THIS GET TO A GAME SEVEN.

Game 6 is set for Friday, June 18th @ STAPLES Center*. Tip-off is set for 10:00 EST on ESPN following Hawks/76ers.

*This will be the first 100% capacity crowd in STAPLES Center since the ‘re-opening’ of California.

Padres cap off electric weekend in LA, beat Dodgers in extras.

To say this weekend series between divisional foes was enjoyable would be a gross understatement. It is simply some of the best regular season baseball we have seen in years.

The offensive and defensive efforts put on display by both parties gave fans a great taste of what October baseball is going to look and feel like.

Fernando Tatis Jr. homered 5 times over the course of 3 games with consecutive multi-homer nights on Thursday (4/23) and Friday (4/24).

Another HR came in Sunday’s 8-7 winning effort over the defending World Series Champions.

These clubs won’t lock horns again until June, and a lot can transpire over the next 50 games.

It is difficult to see anyone but the Dodgers winning the NL West due to the suffocating strangle-hold they have over their division*
*8 consecutive divisional Championships

That being said, the Padres are capable of defeating this potent Dodgers organization in a 5 or 7 game scenario should they meet in the playoffs.

The regular season series between San Diego and Los Angeles can go either way; but more importantly, these elite pitching staffs and lineups could prove to be the two best in the National League.

Slight Advantage Padres

Adams 1.0IP | 2K and Pomeranz 1.0IP | 3K looked like the two best relievers on the field Sunday night. Mark Melancon 1.0IP | 1K | S has been a solid FA addition after closing for Atlanta the previous season. 

The health of Los Angeles’ bullpen could become more of an issue if Joe Kelly, Corey Knebel, and Branden Morrow aren’t firing on all cylinders come playoff time. However, LA did not let the injury plague stop them last year.

If these two teams do happen to meet in the NLDS/NLCS it will be a matchup for the ages. For now, we can look forward to 12 more show-stopping regular season matchups.

Dodgers/Padres is currently the best rivalry in baseball

The MLB season is still young, but teams are settling into divisional matchups and blood is already starting to simmer out west.

Reasons why LA/SD is currently the best rivalry in baseball

•Elite offensive talent on both sides
LA: Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger
SD: Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado

Bellinger & Seager | Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Elite pitching
LA: Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw
SD: Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove

Joe Musgrove completes no-hitter | Ronald Martinez/GETTY

Furthermore, the increased signifigance of this season series has already provided some incredible defensive efforts and overall electrifying baseball. One of baseball’s biggest brand vs. one of baseball’s most exciting brands.

Both teams know this means something. San Diego might not boast the overall record L.A. will at the end of the 2021 campaign, but pose arguably the greatest postseason threat to the reigning World Series Champions.

Only 4 games into the 2021 series and the record is already deadlocked at (2-2) with 15 matchups remaining. Game 2 of a 4 game set gets underway from Chavez Ravine tonight on MLB Network.

Dodgers vs. Padres

EXTRA: The San Diego rebrand has created great uniform matchups, pairing their new home and road pins with the classic Dodgers home whites and road greys.

Braves return to form in home opener, down Phillies 8-1

0-4 is not how Atlanta wanted to begin their 2021 campaign. However, a double-header sweep of the Nationals Wednesday (4/7) and a characteristic offensive performance against Philidelphia at Truist Park Friday night has ATL churning in the right direction.

Charlie Morton (1-1) salted away his first strong performance of the season:

6.0 IP | 4 H | 1 ER | 1 BB | 7 K | W

Ronald Acuña Jr. inked another 4-hit game including a 456ft blast to leapfrog the Fightin’ Phils for good.

Reigning MVP Freddy Freeman and rookie prospect Ehire Adrianza also went deep as visions of last year’s violent offense flashed before our eyes.

The MVFree encore is going well 💪

Originally tweeted by Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) on April 10, 2021.

Welcome to Atlanta, Ehire Adrianza!

#ForTheA

Originally tweeted by Atlanta Braves (@Braves) on April 10, 2021.

Atlanta’s bullpen was efficient in relief to ice the game:

3.0 IP | 2 H | 1 BB | 3 K

The Braves play Game 2 of the series Saturday 4/10 with a chance to grab their first series victory of the season.

Ian Anderson vs. Zach Elflin Saturday 4/10 7:20 EST

Kirkland/Getty Images Fiume/Getty Images

(2) Alabama / (15) Iona: Tournament Update

An update from Tuscaloosa detailing the Tide’s victory in Nashville, as well as a look ahead to the matchup against Iona Saturday, March 20 from Hinkle Fieldhouse.

VIDEO AVAILABLE BELOW IN MULTIPLE FORMATS

Duke has been eliminated from the ACC Tournament… by COVID-19

Duke has been removed from the ACC Tournament after a positive test within their program. The Blue Devils were slated to take on the 2-seed Florida State after an impressive performance on Wednesday against the higher seeded Louisville Cardinals. They will now travel back to Durham, per the teams regular routine.

Duke entered Wednesday as one of the ‘first four out’, according to Joe Lunardi. After a pre-game evaluation Thursday, Duke slides to the ‘next four out’.

A win against a highly-touted Florida State team would have given the Blue Devils a great shot at the tournament, but now will await their dimming fate among the signifigant field of at-large teams.

Teams who ultimately qualify as the ‘first four out’ are encouraged by the NCAA to remain on campus and continue to test in light of other withdrawals that may arise during the big dance. However, Duke AD Kevin White mentioned that a cancellation “will end our 2020-2021 season.” Wether that was a literal statement of their conference outcome, or a wrap on the entire campaign remains to be seen, but the chances for this blue blood are extremely slim going forward.

The 2021 Selection Sunday show begins Sunday, March 14th at 6 p.m. EST on CBS.

Where will Blake Griffin sign?

In what could prove to be the highest profile FA acquisition of the 2020-2021 NBA season, Blake Griffin has reached a buyout with the Detriot Pistons. The 12 year veteran will become an unrestricted free agent and immedietly seek negotiations with several of the league’s top contenders.

–Breaking: Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, sources tell @wojespn.

Originally tweeted by SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) on March 5, 2021.

Pistons owner Tom Gores spoke Friday about Blake’s time in the motor city.

“Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit… His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success.”

Tom Gores, Pistons Owner

The Oklahoma native responded with the following:

“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future”

Blake Griffin

Detroit absorbed Griffin’s $171 million dollar max deal from the L.A. Clippers and was currently on the books for $36.6m this season and $39m next before a mutual agreement was reached. Shams Charania of the Athletic is reporting that Griffin had agreed to forfeit $13.3 million of his remaining contract in order to complete the transaction. Thus, clearing roughly $10 million in cap space for Detriot’s future endeavors.

Where do we go from here?

Nets are front-runners to sign Blake Griffin, per @ShamsCharania, @JLEdwardsIII

Originally tweeted by Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) on March 5, 2021.

Early rumors, before a buyout was reached, had Griffin returning to his old stomping grounds in L.A. However, the Nets have emerged as clear favorites to land the veteran Power Forward. The Nets, more so than the Heat, Trailblazers, and Warriors are in a win now mode and are seemingly pushing all their chips to the middle of the table in order secure the elusive Larry O’Brien trophy. The acquisition could prove to be an overall great fit for a team in need of additional rebounding, supplementary offense, and a solid body on both ends of the floor.

It will certainly not fill the void left under the hoop by departed C Jared Allen, but a signing of this magnitude could propel the Brooklyn Nets into the driver’s seat for good.

The version of Blake Griffin teams will see won’t be the KIA clearing dunks of old, but a refined, versatile player who can maximize a role-player situation on a major contender. He is currently averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists with a decline in production due to lingering injuries. In addition, his production had been hamstrung by a mediocre Pistons franchise stuck between selling a brand through big name players (Drummond, Griffin) and stripping the roster to the bone in favor of a rebuild. Slowly, they found homes for Drummond (Cleveland), Reggie Jackson (L.A.), Luke Kennard (L.A.), and finally Griffin (FA) freeing up Detriot to pursue a brighter future.

Other teams rumored to be a desirable destination for the 6 time All-Star include:

  • Golden State Warriors
  • Miami Heat
  • Portland Trailblazers

The 31 year old veteran Forward could prove to be the final piece to a championship run if one of these contenders does indeed pull the trigger.

Final note: if Blake Griffin’s health does not stand in the way of his production, watch out for alley-oops from Kyrie, a few, albiet vicious poster dunks, and a player that could really revive his career as one of the better stars in the league.

Alabama Baseball Opens Season With Sweep of McNeese.

The Crimson Tide picked up where they left off last season with a three game set against the Cowboys of McNeese State.

Sophomore P Connor Preliepp extended his scoreless inning streak to 26.0 IP after a solid 5.0 innings of solid work Friday. The hurler finished with 8 strikeouts and has recorded more than 7 in each of his career outings.

Final line for Prielipp:

5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R/0 ER, 8 K/0 BB

Originally tweeted by Alabama Baseball (@AlabamaBSB) on February 19, 2021.

The bats also came alive recording 10 runs in the opening day game for the second consecutive season. Junior Drew Williamson set the tone offensively with a 3-hit, 3-RBI day while Sam Praytor and Peyton Wilson recorded their first HR’s of the season.

Here’s @ptwilson3’s first career 💣

Originally tweeted by Alabama Baseball (@AlabamaBSB) on February 20, 2021.

Fri 2/19123456789RHE
McNeese0000030306121
Alabama20201050X1091
W: Connor Prielipp (1-0) L: Dion, Will (0-1)

Saturday’s game would provide some late inning heroics courtesy of Sophomore Zane Denton.

The walk-off by @ZaneDenton3

The call by @CStewartSports on @UA_CTSN.

Originally tweeted by Right Field Ragers (@BamaRightField) on February 20, 2021.

It was a long afternoon for the Alabama squad until Sophomore Owen Diodati’s game-tying HR in the 8th would set up the walk-off by Denton. Stellar defensive play by the McNeese infield kept Alabama off the board for the majority of the afternoon. A 3-0 deficit in the 7th was provided by a couple of baseknocks followed by a double all the way to the wall. The Cowboy’s offense had the home team on the ropes before they could punch back in the late innings.

Sat 2/20123456789RHE
McNeese000012000351
Alabama000000121471
W: Chase Lee (1-0) L: Roliard, Kevin (0-1)

Alabama would go for the sweep Sunday after an electric finish to Saturday’s matchup. A common theme would reveal itself again as Bama would ‘Touch ’em all’ three more times Sunday as Diodati, Denton, and Williamson all homered. Another high-powered offensive day was supported by a pitching staff who allowed hits but cleaned up most of the damage before McNeese could plate their runs. Dylan Smith, Grayson Hitt, and Brock Guffey combined for 9.0 innings and 11 K’s.

Head Coach Brad Bohannon addressed the media after Sunday’s win (courtesy Rolltide.com):

“I couldn’t be more pleased with this first weekend. First thing I’d say is hats off to McNeese. Justin (Hill) does a great job with that team. They’re older. They have really competitive at-bats, they don’t chase a lot and they make you earn everything you get. They don’t walk you or hit you and they defend the field well. We had to earn everything that we got, and (McNeese) played way too well for three games to be 0-3, but I think that says something about our club.”

Head Coach Brad Bohannon
Sun 2/20123456789RHE
McNeese0100300105100
Alabama01022400X970
W: Grayson Hitt (1-0) L: Strahan, Brody (0-1) S: Brock Guffey (1)

Alabama will travel Tuesday to Oxford, Alabama and will face the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

2021-02-23T16:00:00

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Alabama @ Jacksonville State