Los Angeles Clippers vs. Indiana Pacers
April 1, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
3-Seed Western Conference Standings Check
Denver Nuggets, 50-24
L.A. Clippers, 49-25, 1 GB
Memphis Grizzlies, 49-24, 0.5 GB
It’s April 1st. That means don’t believe anything you hear. For all you know, the Pacers and Clippers aren’t even playing tonight. Paul George might still be comfortably resting in his Indianapolis home with his roommate (who I assume is named John Ringo). But if they do play, it should be a pretty good one with the Clips fighting for the 3 seed in the West and the Pacers battling the Knicks for the 2 seed in the East. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. The last time these two teams met, the Pacers didn’t have Roy Hibbert. What kind of a difference does Hibbert make?
Jared Wade, 8points9seconds, (@Jared_Wade): Back then, Roy Hibbert wouldn’t have made any real difference on the offensive end. But over the past three weeks, he has rediscovered his ability to score from the block by using his hulking frame to establish post position and make fluid, on-balance post moves. That’s the key for him: balance and staying in control. With DeAndre Jordan likely to be comfortable staying on his back as he fights for space and trying to contest more than prevent shots, Hibbert could have a big night.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): A massive difference, literally. Hibbert is the Pacers’ defensive anchor and rim protector – it’s difficult to score when a 7-foot-2 mammoth is guarding the paint (and rarely leaving it). The Pacers are 7.2 points per 100 possessions better offensively with him on the floor, and 3.0 points per 100 possessions better defensively (+10.2 net rating), so he makes a notable difference.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): While Ian Mahinmi did an admirable job on defense the last time these teams met, he’s not the anchor that Roy Hibbert is. Not to mention, the combination of Hibbert and David West should keep Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan busy all night long.
2. How might the Pacers’ height affect the way the Clippers play?
Wade: The Lob City opportunities won’t be plentiful. Roy Hibbert stays guarding the rim and shouldn’t veer far from the restricted area if DeAndre Jordan’s jump shot is the only threat to draw him away. Between that and the perimeter guys contesting all three-point looks, it should force the Clippers to become more midrange-jumper oriented.
Buha: Indiana is second in blocks per 100 possessions and first in opponent field goal percentage within 10 feet of the basket – basically, it’s not going to allow a lot of lobs and highlight-reel plays. The Pacers also have the type of long and physical defenders that can distribute the flow of L.A.’s offense, so the Clippers are going to have to grind this one out and pull out some tricks.
Sohi: Hibbert, standing at 7-foot-3, should do a good job of keeping the Clippers on the perimeter for the majority of the night. However, he tends to play the pick and roll flat. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pacers will adjust to Chris Paul’s pick and roll throughout the game.
3. Better play: Blake Griffin pick-and-roll or David West pick-and-pop?
Wade: Good question. Love both, but I’m a sucker for unreal dunks just like everyone else not named Mozgov, so Blake it is. Although, I think if I needed two points with 15 seconds left and Chris Paul couldn’t be involved, I would be more confident with West as the screener in the pick and roll. There are just more options and, worst case, he can get off a contested jumper that he can still make.
Buha: Blake Griffin pick-and-roll. I’d take Griffin’s shooting at the rim (73.1 percent) over West’s shooting on mid-range jumpers (48.9 percent from 15-19 feet). That says more about Griffin’s finishing ability than West’s jump-shooting (he’s among the best, of course). Also, dunks are awesome.
Sohi: It all depends on the movement before the play. If both plays are executed to perfection, Griffin rolling is easily the more efficient play, especially when you consider that the second option after a Griffin jam is generally a wide open corner three.