Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, and Ivica Zubac played their first NBA playoff game Saturday, and it couldn’t have come against a tougher opponent.
For many, the thought of facing the all-mighty Golden State Warriors is daunting, but that’s the card the young Clippers have been dealt. The Warriors overwhelmed the rookies with both a swarming defense and a blistering offense that was hard to match. Shai, Shamet, and Zubac totaled up 7-of-24 from the field, and seemed to play especially nervous throughout the game; Shai scored nearly all of the field goals, shooting 6-of-16 (37.5%).
Despite putting some good numbers, Shai was a bit up and down throughout the game, but that doesn’t worry Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.
“He’ll be better in Game 2,” Doc Rivers said. “I can almost guarantee you that. I know Shai. I don’t think he’s happy with the way he played. I just want him to stay aggressive.”
Shamet on the other hand, struggled throughout the entire game. He had Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson guarding him for the majority of the game, and struggled to get any type of rhythm going against their size and length. Shamet only put up 1-of-6 from the field, and his lack of touches is something that head coach Doc Rivers hopes to rectify.
“Whenever Sham doesn’t get shots, I always think that’s on me.” Doc Rivers said. “We’ve got to get him more shots. That’s on me, that’s on our team. We’ve got to value him more, and I didn’t think we did a good enough job.”
Zubac didn’t really get enough time to put in a solid showing, mainly because Montrezl Harrell was doing so well in the game. Zubac put up 2 point and 4 rebounds in 10:17 of playing time. There’s a possibility he may get more minutes in Game 2, as the Clippers were outrebounded 53-40.
Collectively, the trio of young players will do better in Game 2. It’s a statement Lou Williams believes will come true.
“We’ve got to get Sham and Zu going, obviously being their first playoff game,” Williams said. “It can be a little nerve-wracking, so we’ve got to get those guys going. Collectively, I think all three of them will be just fine in Game 2. Trying to knock those jitters off and take their experiences from Game 1, carry it over to the next game, and it will be a better thing next game.”
Lou Williams on the play of the young starters: "We gotta get Shamet and Zu going. Obviously it being their first playoff game, it can be a little nerve rattling. Collectively I think all 3 of them will be fine in Game 2." #Clippers #Warriors pic.twitter.com/wo5hJHf98x— Farbod Esnaashari ✪ (@Farbod_E) April 14, 2019
Simply put, the Clippers aren’t scared about their young guys, and you shouldn’t be either.