The stretch run is upon us, and as we look Austin Seferian-Jenkins Jersey at where teams sit currently in our Power Rankings, we’ll also examine what ought to be their mission for the post-All-Star stretch.
Get clutch. The Heat have played more close games than any team this season, and for much of their year, the record in those games was impeccable ‘ 22-11 in games that were within five points in the final five minutes, with a net efficiency of plus-19.7. In their last eight, however, they’ve fallen apart. Their margin has been just minus-2.6, but they have lost seven of those eight games. In the clutch, they’ve fallen apart, scoring just 95.7 points per 100 possessions and allowing 106.4, a net rating of minus-10.7.
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Keep Blake Griffin healthy. It’s understandable that coach Stan Van Gundy is under pressure to earn a playoff spot, and though Griffin has struggled in eight games in Detroit (he is shooting 40.6 percent), riding him down the stretch is Detroit’s best bet to get them there. But Griffin has been injury prone, and the Pistons will need him to be healthy past just this year. It’ll be tempting to up his minutes in the final weeks of the season, but the Pistons should resist that.
One of his character flaws is he has this passive-aggressive bent that he gets into and he’s also moody, which maybe that’s the same thing, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Dan Le Batard Show Wednesday.
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And he gets in these sort of moods, we’ve seen this for years, and he’s in a mood right now and he’s depressed because of the state of the roster.
More specifically, James is reportedly unhappy with how he and Thomas are playing together.
They don’t play together at all on the court, Windhorst said. A couple days ago our stats and information group sent me that Isaiah was shooting less than 20 percent on passes from LeBron, so LeBron’s throwing him passes and Isaiah’s making none of them.