Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Series tied at 1
7:30 p.m. PST
May 9, 2014
1. What was the biggest difference from Game 1 to Game 2?
Aaron Fischman, (@aaronhartf): Unlike Game 1, Durant and Westrbook were able to get their teammates involved Wednesday night. They combined for 19 assists, as the rest of the Thunder converted an impressive 48.8 percent of their shots. Just as important, the turnover script flipped from Game 1 to Game 2. The Clippers took great care of the basketball in the series opener, committing just nine turnovers and winning the points-off-turnovers battle, 23-10. By contrast, the Clippers were sloppy in Game 2 and lost points off turnovers, 16-10.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): The Clippers’ simply shot the ball worse. They dropped from 54.9 percent in Game 1 to 44.6 percent in Game 2 (10.3 percent drop-off). Mainly, the collapse came on uncontested field goals. In Game 1, the Clippers were 31-for-58 on uncontested field goals (53.4 percent). In Game 2? Just 22-for-50 (44 percent). The Thunder made sound adjustments — they packed the paint and dared sub-par shooters to beat them — but the Clippers missed a lot of good looks.
Seth Partnow, (@WhrOffnsHppns): Russell Westbrook’s aggressiveness on both ends of the floor. On offense he was far more intent on getting to the rim and on defense more focused on harassing Chris Paul. The “Good Russ-Bad Russ” duality is overdone, but we definitely saw “Good Russ” at his dynamic best in Game 2.
2. How can Blake Griffin fix his rebounding woes?
Fischman: Griffin isn’t alone in his rebounding woes. His BFF, DeAndre Jordan, has struggled in that department through the first two games, as well. For one, Griffin and company have got to put a body on Russell Westbrook and other Thunder players who crash the boards. Granted, Westbrook is extremely athletic, but quality box-out position can negate some of Westbrook’s hops. Good old-fashioned energy and effort will also aid Griffin.
Buha: He can’t. Blake Griffin is the Benjamin Button of rebounding. Outside of a random February bump, his rebounding numbers have declined month to month this season. This points to a larger perturbing trend, as his per-36 rebounding numbers have steadily declined since his rookie year. At the same time, Blake’s role has evolved into leaking out for fast-break opportunities, whether it be finishing or leading the break himself. While it’d probably serve the team better if he boxed out beforehand, the strategy has worked more than it hasn’t.
Partnow: I’m going to go back to high school JV principles and say he needs to out a body on someone. After a series of being outquicked by smaller Warriors, Griffin faces another opponent in Serge Ibaka he can’t simply jump over to get the ball. Establish position early rather than try to make a spectacular play late.
3. Russell Westbrook has scored 60 points over the first two games of the series. What can the Clippers do to stop him?
Fischman: Nothing. They won’t stop him. In order to contain the UCLA product, the Clippers will have to find a way to keep Chris Paul on the court longer, get Westbrook off the offensive glass and potentially double-team Westbrook on the block in the case that Durant is out of the game. Also, try to stick with him in transition, but that’s way easier said than done.
Buha: Let Westbrook be Westbrook. Just kidding. Kind of. The Clippers have to just sag off him and live with him taking pull-up 20-footers and threes. They have to be careful, though, as that approach can give him a running start to knife into the lane. Still, the Clippers don’t have an individual defender to match his speed or athleticism, and sticking Darren Collison on him just isn’t going to work.
Partnow: Bait him into take jump shots. If he makes them, he makes them, but the Clippers need to keep him out of the lane or from drawing help defenders. Aside from Durant, the rest of the Thunder often needs to be served shots on a platter, and Westbrook rampantly perforating the Clips’ first line of defense allows him to do just that.
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