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The Skip Pass: About that lack of spacing in Chicago…

AP Photo/Matt Marton
AP Photo/Matt Marton

The Skip Pass will be your home on Today’s Fastbreak for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.

Focus Games: Celtics at Bulls, Clippers at Trail Blazers

Other Games: Wizards at Hawks, Spurs at Kings



  • For all the knocks on the Bulls lack of perimeter shooting, they got it done in this one. Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo combined to shoot 9-14 from behind the arc.
  • The Bulls crashed the boards all night long and came up with 18 offensive rebounds, including six from Robin Lopez.
  • Chicago often tasked Jimmy Butler with guarding Isaiah Thomas. When Doug McDermott came in, the Bulls had him regularly guarding Terry Rozier. And they switched almost all pick and roll actions. Interesting wrinkle from Fred Hoiberg.
  • Overall, it was a great debut for a new look Bulls team. They won’t shoot it that well most nights, but they’ll be in almost every game because of their overall talent level.


  • The Celtics bigs were ineffective on the defensive end. Amir Johnson and Al Horford battled foul trouble all night, pressing Tyler Zeller into 20 minutes. Boston also had to go really small at times. Chicago took advantage on the boards and at the basket.
  • Isaiah Thomas had an up and down offensive night. He shot 10-15 and had 25 points. But he also had five turnovers and was an uncharacteristic 2-6 on FTs.
  • Jaylen Brown had some nice moments on both ends of the floor but committed a crucial turnover in the final seconds with the Celtics trailing by just two points. It is all a part of the learning process for the rookie.
  • One positive for Boston: 22 assists on 38 baskets. They share the ball really well and make great use of the versatility of their players as ball handlers and passers.




  • The difference in this game was the performance of the LA bench vs. the Portland bench. The Clippers got solid play from Jamal Crawford, Marreese Speights, Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson and Raymond Felton. They pushed and extended the team’s lead while in the game. The most surprising aspect was this group being very good defensively.
  • Blake Griffin looked fully healthy. His play tailed off a bit late, but he was explosive and quick. If the Clippers have any hope of beating the Warriors, they need Griffin to be at an MVP level.
  • Watching Chris Paul completely control a game at his age and against really good opposing guards remains a pleasure.


  • The Portland bench, one of the most expensive in the NBA, was non-existent most of the night. Backup big men Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh were particularly poor on both ends of the floor.
  • Outside of Damian Lillard and Mo Harkless, there just wasn’t much to see for the Blazers tonight. But it is a testament to how good they are that they were still in the game, against a very good team, when they didn’t have their best stuff.




  • Great debut for Dwight Howard for his hometown Hawks. Howard had 11 points and 19 rebounds. He would have had a bigger night but sat for a lot of the 4th quarter.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. and Thabo Sefolosha had great games off the bench for Atlanta. Hardaway Jr. had 21 points, and Sefolosha was terrific all-around.
  • Mike Muscala drew all the meaningful backup big man minutes. Something to monitor as both Howard and Millsap have been dinged up in the past.


  • Not John Wall’s best night, despite a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists. He shot just 3-15 and was often out of control. The Wizards need him to be better to be a playoff caliber team.
  • Washington got almost no production from their bench. Scott Brooks is going to have to quickly figure out who he can trust for rotation minutes.


SPURS 102 – KINGS 94


  • Kawhi Leonard continued his ascent to superstardom with another dominating night. The sequence of the night was a series of plays when Leonard was matched with Ben McLemore and stole the ball from him. What made it special was that Kawhi simply took the ball out of McLemore’s hands like an adult playing with a child.
  • The Spurs closed the game with DeWayne Dedmon at center vs. Pau Gasol. Gasol was struggling defensively, and Dedmon gave San Antonio a presence on that end. This is something to watch as the season develops.


  • DeMarcus Cousins was unstoppable for most of the game. In the 4th quarter, he landed awkwardly and seemed to twist his ankle. He wasn’t quite the same after that, but he did stay in the game.
  • The Kings bench really let them down. Not one player gave a good effort in this one. Oddly enough Omri Casspi drew a DNP-CD after only playing 9 minutes in the opener.
  • Non-basketball note: The Kings’ new arena looks gorgeous. All the comments from fans and NBA people are that Sacramento may now have the best arena in the league. This is a great development for a passionate fan base that deserves it.

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