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NBA Playoffs 2015 Second Round Clippers-Rockets Game 2 Preview: To sit, or not to sit?

The Clippers took a 1-0 series lead in enemy territory without their floor leader. Should they look to strike without Chris Paul once again and give him more time to heal?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2015 NBA Playoffs
Second Round


Series Schedule
Game 1 - Mon May 4, 6:30 p.m. in Houston, Clippers 117 Rockets 101
Game 2 - Wed May 6, 6:30 p.m., TNT, Houston, TOYOTA Center
Game 3 - Fri May 8, 7:30 p.m., Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 4 - Sun May 10, 5:30 p.m., Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 5*  Tue May 12, Time TBD, TNT, Houston, TOYOTA Center
Game 6*  Thu May 14, Time TBD, TNT, Los Angeles, STAPLES Center
Game 7* Sat May 16, Time TBD, TNT, Houston, TOYOTA Center
* if necessary
Win-Loss Breakdown
19-11 East 23-7
37-15 West 33-19
30-11 Home 30-11
26-15 Road 26-15
19-22 .500+ 21-21
37-4 .500- 35-5
Probable Starters
Chris Paul* PG Jason Terry
J.J. Redick SG James Harden
Matt Barnes SF Trevor Ariza
Blake Griffin PF Terrence Jones
DeAndre Jordan C Dwight Howard
Key Reserves
Austin Rivers PG Pablo Prigioni
Jamal Crawford SG Nick Johnson
Hedo Turkoglu SF Corey Brewer
Glen Davis PF Josh Smith
Spencer Hawes C Clint Capela
Advanced Stats 2014-2015 Regular Season
96.96 (11th of 30) Pace 99.25 (2nd of 30)
109.8 (1st of 30) ORtg 104.2 (12th of 30)
103.0 (15th of 30) DRtg 100.5 (6th of 30)
Chris Paul (hamstring) questionable
Patrick Beverley (wrist surgery) out

Donatas Motiejunas (back) out

K.J. McDaniels (wrist) out

The Back Story (The teams split the regular season series 2-2):

Date Venue Final

Clippers 102, Rockets 85
Box Score
Los Angeles
Clippers 110, Rockets 95
Box Score
Rockets 110, Clippers 105
Box Score
Los Angeles
Rockets 100, Clippers 98
Box Score

The Big Picture: The obvious question for the Clippers going into Game 2 is whether or not the Point God should sit out and recover from his hurting hammy for one more game. The Clippers were able to nab Game 1 without Chris Paul behind a huge night from Blake Griffin and excellent team play in the second half. Is the team satisfied with already having stolen home court and willing to risk a Game 2 loss, or do they go for the kill and play Chris on Wednesday?

The answer, of course, depends on CP3's overall health. If he can go, why sit him out? If he's so-so, why risk it? The team has been holding the nitty gritty details of his injury close to the vest, meaning we have no clue how close he was to playing in Game 1 or how far he could realistically be from returning to action. Luckily, the Clippers hand is not forced and they've put themselves in a position where they're able to make a decision solely based on what works best for them.

And if Chris Paul doesn't go, the Clippers still have the 6'10" version of him available.

The Antagonist: Kevin McHale absolutely ripped his team in his post-game presser, saying something to the effect of Game 1 being an embarrassment for the Houston Rockets. And, well, it was. Houston seemed to lack a bit of...well, everything. They showed no effort, they were flat, and they gave Hedo Turkoglu his best game of the postseason, for God's sake. Essentially, Game 1 was a fluke for them. The Rockets are obviously a much better team than their first effort against the Clippers showed, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them come out with all guns blazing for Game 2. Their first round matchup was a cakewalk, and the Clippers may have just woken them up.

The Subplots:

  • Triple doubles. Blake Griffin, who you may have heard of, is playing sensationally. He tallied only four career triple doubles before this postseason, and now he has three in the last eight games. He's the first player since Jason Kidd to have back-to-back triple doubles in playoff games, and the first non-guard to do so since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.
  • 3-point shooting. The Clippers have got to be sure to limit the Rockets' three-point attempts. They shoot a ton of 'em, but don't make a very high percentage (they've averaged 27 3PA per game and are making 34% in the postseason). If the Rockets suddenly decide to get hot, which they're certainly capable of, it could spell trouble for the Clips.
  • Turnovers. Game 1 was a travesty in regard to taking care of the ball--the Clippers had 23 turnovers and the Rockets had 24. Without Chris Paul, you'd expect the Clips' turnover number to increase, but 20+ in a playoff game is just absurd. If CP3 doesn't go in Game 2, it seems likely that the Clippers will struggle in that area again, while the Rockets will surely be making adjustments to avoid putting themselves in that kind of turnover situation at home again.
  • The kid. Steve noted in his Game 1 preview that Austin Rivers has a huge opportunity to prove himself this series, and he did a great job after a rough start on Monday. Sports Illustrated posted a neato story on the Internet's love/hate relationship with Young Rivers, and it's definitely worth your time. But I'd be doing the community a disservice if I didn't include this, erm, lowlight for your entertainment.
  • HBD! Today is Chris Paul's 30th birthday. Here's hoping he has more than one reason to celebrate tonight!
  • Connections. As previously noted, there are no Rocket-Clipper player crossovers in this series, but a handful of hometown guys on opposite teams. DeAndre Jordan is a Houston native, drawing many of his family and friends to games in Texas. Trevor Ariza and James Harden are both from the LA area--Ariza attended Westchester HS and Harden went to Artesia. Former Clipper point guard and current assistant Sam Cassell was drafted by the Rockets and won two championships with them in 1994 and 1995. The Rockets and the Clippers both once called San Diego home, the Rockets from 1967-1971 and the Clippers from 1978-1984.