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The stars didn’t shine: Three takeaways from Clippers-Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo drops 54 as the Clippers stars have an off night in Milwaukee.

Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks
Paul George defends Giannis Antetokounmpo as he gets the better of the Clippers in Milwaukee.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers surrendered a 21-point lead in falling 106-105 to the Milwaukee Bucks, led by 54 points from their star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Greek Freak stood head and shoulders above anybody else in Milwaukee – a problem for the away team which we’ll come on to discuss – despite dropping just six points in the first quarter, when Ivica Zubac was the primary defender. However, once the Croatian had to sit due to foul trouble, the Clippers were foul and found themselves in trouble.

Here are the takeaways…

The stars didn’t shine

If the main takeaway for the neutral is that Giannis came to play, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George just did not. The former shot 7-for-26 from the field and repeatedly missed shots after getting into his spots down the stretch, while the latter shot 6-for-16 and looked a shadow of his best self all game.

There will be Clippers fans who come away from that with their own criticisms of others, and there would be some reasonable arguments in the cases of some role players. However, if the opponent’s star recovers from a tough first quarter to drop 54 on 21-for-39, your own stars shooting a combined 13-for-42 just isn’t going to cut it.

Those guys need to stand up, especially late in games, but they do also need more help…

Clutch offense

To my mind at least, that help needs to come from Tyronn Lue. Yes, you should be able to rely on your stars to show out in the clutch and carry you to a win, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a plan B in case one or both are suffering from a slow shooting night – as was the case.

The Clippers’ clutch offense has been an issue for a number of years, and there’s been a startling commitment to bad offensive process often this season too. It’s the sort of issue that a head coach of Ty’s level will be able to iron out in no time, but there’s a stubbornness underpinning a lot of on-court decisions this campaign which has made it a tough watch at times.

Last night was good until it really wasn’t, but it’s certainly not the time to rip it up and start again either…

The point guard noise

Watching the national broadcast play-by-play last night, and seeing the evidence of how the game went for the Clippers, will no doubt see the noise about them needing a true playmaking point guard return. I cannot stress enough how much this simply isn’t true.

As per the previous two takeaways, you should be able to look to your stars to carry you to a win in the clutch. The Bucks did so with Giannis to great effect, and it was he who was calling his own number in their half-court sets. Jrue Holiday is a great point guard who had a big impact in this game, but his impact was solely on the defensive side of the ball down the stretch, he wasn’t out there making the plays for his team or their star.

The Clippers would legitimately be better served going away from this idea that they need a traditional point guard on the floor, because the evidence against the best opponents this season is that it isn’t working.

Terance Mann was a +21 before not even touching the floor in the fourth. It is time we blocked out the external narratives, forgot about the optics of it and stick with what is clearly working.