Quick, raise your hands if you called some guy that handles your money and told him you were willing to gamble that the Clippers would be 3-0 and the Bulls would be 0-4. After all wasn’t this supposed to be another losing season for Los Angeles’ other team and a step up for the Bulls.
Wasn’t it supposed to be this way for the Clippers, especially when Elton Brand went down. Well a funny thing happened on the way to the first full week of the NBA season, Chris Kaman lost some weight and his hair. Kaman had his third straight double-double, something he did once last season and five times during the extremely fun 2005-06 season.
I have to admit, I haven’t seen much of the Clippers. I only watched some of the fourth quarter against Golden State on Friday so I’ll be interested to see how their game with the 3-0 Pacers goes Wednesday.
Now should I get excited about the Clippers just yet? I’d guess probably not, wins over the defensively challenged Warriors, the fourth-quarter deficient SuperSonics and one over the what the heck is going here Bulls, might be reason for skepticism, especially since they were 5-1 last season and did not even make the playoffs.
What I will be excited about is the night that Cuttino Mobley had. He was 10-for-10 in the first half, 13-of-17 overall for 33 points. What you also have to like is the final moments of the fourth when the Clippers turned an 89-85 deficit with 4:05 remaining into the victory - a full detailed synopsis can be found here .
That brings us to the other end of the spectrum - the 0-4 Chicago Bulls. Now keep in mind they also started this way three years ago and made the playoffs but the expectations were different this time around. In case you need to be reminded about that, here’s some the lead paragraph from the Sporting News NBA preview magazine:
“John Paxson has slowly built the Chicago Bulls over his five seasons as general manager into of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and perhaps the franchise with the most upside in the years to come.”
So what’s the problem?
The fourth quarter seems to be an issue. They missed their final seven shots against the Clippers. Saturday in Milwaukee, they were down five with 2:07 remaining and missed five of their final six. A night earlier against Philadelphia, they were down two with 5:16 remaining and missed their final seven shots. And finally a week ago in New Jersey, they had a three-point with 4:14 remaining in regulation and missed 14 of their final 20 shots. That adds up to 1-for-19 in the last three games when it was theirs to win.
I’m not panicking and neither are the Bulls. After all they’ve made the playoffs in three straight seasons in spite of a combined record of 13-26 in the first month of the season. It is just troubling to see a team who many think is the cream of the crop in the East perform like this, especially against three teams that aren’t projected playoff teams.