Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Thunder lead series 2-1
12:30 p.m. PST
May 11, 2014
1. Is Blake Griffin’s Game 2 or Game 3 more indicative of what his performance will be like for the rest of the series?
Andrew Lynch, Hardwood Paroxysm, (@AndrewLynch): I think it’s Game 3. Maybe he doesn’t reach that level again for how many ever games are remaining, but I get the feeling that we’ll see maximum capacity Blake for the rest of the series. Depending on how the Thunder scheme and adjust, that might not mean scoring, necessarily. The Clippers may be at their best in this series when Blake is finding open looks for everyone else and drawing attention away from Chris Paul.
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): Game 3. Griffin can still score one-on-one, despite Ibaka’s improved defense this year. It’s when OKC sits Adams or Perkins behind that we see a reluctance in Griffin going to the hoop. It’s like a faux-double; Griffin faces up Ibaka, Perkins/Adams shades towards the middle to dissuade the drive and allows Ibaka to handoff stopping the penetration and switching to help, something at which he’s far superior. That advantage goes away when the Thunder go small, with Durant at the power forward spot. And realistically, it’s something they need to do to keep up with the scoring pace the Clippers’ starters have set.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Blake’s Game 3 is more indicative of what his performance should be like for the rest of the series; I can’t predict what it will be, because Blake has been so inconsistent against the Thunder. Friday’s game closely resembled the last time OKC was in L.A. at the end of the season — Griffin faced up and bulldozed his way to the rim, regardless of the defensive coverage. He can do it whenever he pleases, I just can’t assuredly say he will.
2. What can the Clippers do about Russell Westbrook?
Lynch: Like a 19-year old college kid with too much beer and a desire to make bad decisions, it’s all about the funnel. The Clips have to use Westbrook’s propensity for pull-up jumpers to their advantage and commit to forcing him to the elbows. When he has the ball in his hands, the defensive actions need to guide him there. Oh, and they just need to do that while also doing their damnedest to deny Kevin Durant the ball. Have fun!
Han: Go big. There’s almost always someone Chris Paul can be hidden on; not that he’s a poor defender, but simply diminutive for this series. Barnes and Granger should be seeing the bulk of their minutes on Westbrook, while Paul can guard Sefolosha, Jackson or Fisher. Paul and/or Redick can be asked to defend Westbrook for small stints, but anything more would just encourage Westbrook to flex his athleticism.
Buha: I’m not sure. Honestly, they don’t have an answer for him. I stand by what I said last 3-on-3, though — you have to pack the paint and try to force him to shoot jumpers. If they go in, they go in. But that’s a better strategy than letting him “attack seams the entire game,” as Doc Rivers said before Game 3. I don’t think Westbrook’s the problem; I think that’s Kevin Durant.
3. Should the Clippers shorten their rotation for Game 4?
Lynch: As much as it pains me to say this, Mr. Dudley should probably be on the fringes of the rotation going forward, and the more time that Glen Davis sees, the worse off the Clippers are going to be. True, the Clips don’t have much depth in the frontcourt beyond Davis and Hedo Turkoglu, but if they lose Game 4, their season is effectively over. The time to worry about rest has passed.
Han: Yes. It probably should have happened in Round 1. Collison has been an admirable backup this season, but this is simply not the series for him. Scoring has not been the issue for the Clippers; it’s constantly been about being able to secure rebounds and slowing down the Thunder. Granger, Crawford and Davis for spot minutes is about as deep as Rivers should be digging for the duration.
Buha: Yes. Doc has to play the starters at least 35 minutes each from here on out. That’s their best lineup. Jamal can play 15-20 minutes, Big Baby and DC can play eight to 12, and Granger can play five to 10, but that’s it; no more than nine guys. J.J. definitely needs to see more floor time — he only played 21 minutes in Game 3, which is insane.