During the game between the Clippers and the Timberwolves, some curious coaching patterns emerged from both sides. On the the Clippers bench, the game was decided during a crucial stretch of the fourth quarter, when the score went from 78-78 with 10:16 left to 90-82 in favor of the Timberwolves with 6:58 left. This time period also coincided with Blake Griffin inexplicably coming out of the game. Having scored 29 points in 3 quarters, this substitution simply boggles the mind. If Del Negro wanted to get a little bit of rest for his dominant star, why wouldn’t he take him out for the last minute of the 3rd quarter and the first 2 minutes of the 4th? Instead, the Clippers had a big problem scoring and defending with their best low post defender and scorer on the bench.
Meanwhile, Rick Adelman pledged to let Rubio find his way slowly, without the pressure of the world on his shoulders. Little did Adelman know how easily Rubio would pick up the American game, providing highlight after highlight with his slick passing and surprising ability to knock down jump shots. Adelman’s way of easing the pressure off of Rubio was to start Luke Ridnour alongside him, basically having two ball dominant point guards together on the floor. This strategy has served to backfire on the Wolves, as this +/- chart shows:
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While Ridnour was clearly a good idea in the beginning of the year, it’s time to let Rubio run the show and create. The Timberwolves are already benefitting from his advantage, and he’ll do even better with a proper shooting guard running alongside him.
As for the Clippers, they currently rank 24th in defensive efficiency, allowing teams to score much too easily. In fact, of all the division leaders, they are hands down the worst ranked defense. Having slogged along the last 10 games at 5-5, and with a tough 6 game road trip starting, it is unlikely the Clippers come back home anywhere near first place.