- Playoff Griffin is Back. Blake finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists while posterizing Mason Plumlee not once, not twice, but three times!
- The Clippers defensive strategy for game one was pretty obvious. Double Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and let AFA, Gerald Henderson, and Mo Harkless shoot.
- Regardless of the fact that the Blazers aren't going to come back, Terry Stotts still chose to use his favorite defense against the Clippers, the Hack-a-DJ. It didn't help his team get any closer to a comeback.
- JJ Redick, who was probable coming into the game, looked good.
- Chris Paul was by far the better of the two point guards in this game. He had more points, rebounds, assists, and steals than his counterpart
In my prediction for the ClipsNation staff round table, I said that the Clippers would loose game one due to rust, having not played any significant NBA action for the last few weeks. I guess I was wrong about that. The Clippers looked like they were ready for action, and were making shots early. JJ Redick, who was dealing with a foot injury, knocked down two early shots off curls, while Blake Griffin looked like the pre-injury Griffin we were enjoying prior to Chirstmas. He especially looked like the real Blake Griffin when he backed down Damian Lillard, who proceeded to flop, trying to draw a charge on Griffin. The refs didn't fall for the move, and Blake proceeded to posterize Mason Plumlee.
One of the big factors for Clippers success in the first was their defense, as they forced multiple turnovers that lead to some easy shots, including a steal by Chris Paul that lead to an alley-oop pass to DJ for the slam.
Early in the first, DJ had a chance to give Terry Stotts second thoughts about using the hack-a-DJ strategy when he was sent to the line, but missed both free throws pretty badly. With that showing, and the Blazers out of fouls toward the end of the first, DJ knocked down two free throws after an intentional foul. The Clippers immediately returned the favor, as they fouled Ed Davis, sending him to the line for two free-bees. This turned out to be a good decision, as he missed both, and the Clippers ended the first quarter with the lead, 26-21.
In the second, both teams settled down a bit, and exchanged some blows, with neither team building a big lead until the end of the quarter when the Clippers went on an 11-2 run to close out the half. One strategy that it seems the Clippers have decided to use, at least for tonight's game, is to let AFA shoot all the 3 pointers he wants, making one while missing four in the first half. This strategy, along with some strong defense to end the 2nd quarter, allowed the Clippers to take an 8 point lead into the half, 50-42.
The 3rd quarter started out sloppy for both teams. After the Blazers made the first basket of the half, they missed some shots bad, and made some mental errors, including AFA stepping on the sideline after receiving the inbound pass. For the Clippers, JJ Redick and Chris Paul would miss consecutive 3 pointers pretty badly on the same possetion. It would be the Clippers who would settle down first, lead by a second posterizing dunk on Mason Plumlee:
And Blake wasn't done with Plumlee. Just a couple minutes later in the 3rd, he would do this:
It wasn't just the Blake Griffin show in the 3rd either. Chris Paul continued doing Chris Paul things all quarter, including hitting a 3 pointer followed by a 2 pointer in back to back possesions, along with making a wide open layup after parting the Blazers lane, and throwing an alley-oop to DJ out of a time out.
Playin' both ends of the floor. https://t.co/qqHO9sUzeb— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 18, 2016
Really, the Blazers didn't have any answers for the Clippers on either end of the court in the 3rd, and the Clippers extended their lead to 15, 81-66.
The Clippers started the 4th with 5 bench players on the court, the first time they did this all game, and they played well. They didn't let Portland cut into the lead, and actually added to it. Portland helped the cause, with 2 goal tending calls early in the quarter. At this point of the game, you could tell the Blazers were a bit shocked. Austin Rivers had a good start to the quarter, scoring a quick 9 points, while playing some good defense on Lillard. We also had a Chris Kaman sighting at Staples, and right after he came in, he made a nice move and score.
With 2 full days off between game 1 and 2, Doc decided to bring Paul, Griffin and Jordan back to put a stamp on the game even though the team was up big at this point. Almost immediately, Griffin was the recipient of what looked like a flagrant foul by Mo Harkless, but after review, the refs decided that it was just a common foul. Blake would make the 2 free throws, and extend the Clippers lead to 21. On the next play, Clippers fans everywhere held their breath as Chris Kaman set a pick on Chris Paul, and the Clippers all-star came up a little gimpy. Paul would walk it off, and seemed to be fine.
And then, former Clippers all-star and hero Chris Kaman turned heel, as he would intentionally foul Jordan with a shove to the chest, upsetting the Clippers current center. DJ wouldn't make him pay, missing free throws, while Kaman showed he could still score (why isn't he playing more??), knocking down a baseline jumper. The Blazers would continue to foul Jordan, and with the big lead the Clips had, Doc decided to leave him in. On one of the intentional fouls, Jordan seemed to make the shot while being fouled, but the refs decided that the foul occurred before the shot. DJ would make a free throw to bring Lawlers Law in play, putting the Clippers up 100-81. After that, it was just a lot of free throws. A whole lot of free throws. Heck, even after DJ left the game, the Blazers still utilized the hack-a strategy, fouling Cole Aldrich inside the 2 minute mark, which gave the Clippers the ball back after Aldrich made the free throw. Why?
Ultimately, the Blazers had no answer for the Clippers tonight. They came in with the hope of upsetting the team from Los Angeles, and held with them for a quarter and a half. But the Clippers were just to to good, and without any legitimate big men to compete with the Clippers bigs, the Blazers need more out of Lillard and McCollum to have any chance in this series.