Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors
Series tied 1-1
7:30 p.m. PST
April 24, 2014
1. True or false: Blake Griffin will average more than one point per minute in this series.
Jack Winter, Hardwood Paroxysm, (@ArmstrongWinter): True. I assumed Golden State would most miss Andrew Bogut’s defense in primary pick-and-roll coverage and back-line help situations. Instead, it’s been his individual defense on Griffin for which the Warriors have no viable replacement. Blake is eating David Lee alive in the post and splashing jumpers with ease; there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): In two games, he has 51 points in 49 minutes. But he’s also gone 13-for-14 from the line. I expect him to shoot plenty of free throws Thursday because Golden State will play physically. The line will be a lonely place during the playoffs at Oracle, but Griffin did shoot roughly the same percentage at home (72.1 percent) as on the road (70.9 percent) this year. So even if the noise and raucous atmosphere rattle him, he’ll still score efficiently. That said, it probably dips below a point per minute.
Seth Partnow, (@WhrOffnsHppns): False. David Lee can’t cover him, neither can Draymond Green, and certainly pension-collecting Jermaine O’Neal isn’t the answer. But lets not get crazy here, nobody has ever averaged a point per minute for a playoff season. And while I haven’t searched every series in league history, even in MJ’s legendary one-man assault on the Celtics in the ’86 playoffs, he averaged just under a point per minute (131 points in 135 minutes). Because we bring facts at ClipperBlog.
2. True or false: Stephen Curry is due for a typical Curry, breakout game in Game 3.
Winter: True. The Clippers did a far better job limiting Curry’s effectiveness as a pick-and-roll playmaker in Game 2 – the helper hedged more responsibly and primary defender did a far better job of staying attached to his hip. Golden State will likely try to combat those adjustments tonight by putting Curry in more off-ball screen situations so he has ample room to attack. If he gets going early, Roaracle could push him over the top – Steph shot 44.1 percent from three-point range at home this season compared to just 39.8 percent on the road.
James: True. That’s why it’s probably in the Clippers’ best interest to knock him around a bit – so long as they aren’t reckless about it. Remember, Curry has only recently become consistent from the paint. He used to shy away from contact, which often resulted in missed layups (at one point he shot better from threes than on layups). As we saw Monday, he’s much improved going hard to the hoop – which is why L.A. should make him think twice about doing so.
Partnow: Can I get a judge’s ruling on whether “typical breakout game” is an oxymoron? I think there’s a good chance Steph scores many, many points, some of them in ridiculous fashion such as pulling up for three on a fast break as the noise in Oracle levitates him two inches off the floor. On the other hand, maybe he presses a little, chasing one of those “playoff moments” and puts up a James Harden-like shooting line. Because we bring nuance at ClipperBlog.
3. Was third place a good spot for DeAndre Jordan in Defensive Player of the Year voting?
Winter: It’s fair. There were several candidates – two of whom play for Golden State – that deserved just as many if not more points in the voting than Jordan, but his placement is hardly some injustice. He’s more a splashy defender than nuanced one at this point, and opponents shot better at the rim (49.4 percent) against him than you’d think. But Jordan’s overall impact as interior intimidator is still crucial to LA’s seventh-ranked defense, as evidenced by the second-half of Game 1: the Warriors dominated the paint when forcing him into pick-and-roll help on the perimeter.
James: It was probably a little too high for him, but I loved his reaction: he felt snubbed – and he channeled that indignity into one of his most ferocious defensive performances of the year. For the Clippers’ sake, let’s hope he still feels that way.
Partnow: Too high. Way too high. Even as the guy who wrote the book on his defensive improvements here at ClipperBlog, there were many more deserving candidates. He went from an liability to a solidly above average defensive center, but there’s still ground to cover before he becomes elite. Objectively, I’d have a hard time putting him on a hypothetical All-Defensive Third Team assuming the teams include standard positional breakdowns. And I don’t intend that as a knock, because it’s not really a slight to say he’s not quite as good on that end as Noah, Hibbert, the sorely not-missed Andrew Bogut or even a Marc Gasol or Tim Duncan. He’s well above average, and hopefully uses the “insult” of not winning this year to continue getting better in the following weeks, months and years.
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