Clipperblog had a chance to take a look at some game tape over lunch and found a few nagging details from Saturday night that need to be addressed early in Game Two:
- It gets said a lot, but Denver plays its best basketball in transition. I wrote on Sunday morning that Andre Miller did most of his damage off of high screens and that was true in the half court, but in transition he was able to weave through the front court, then spin away from our bigs. Let me also say that the Clippers need to find a better way to defend the Camby/Elson on-ball screen up top than a Kaman/Brand switch. Miller killed them. The problem, of course, is that neither Cassell nor Mobley is quick enough to run under the screen.
- Brand has to hit face-up jumpers. There's no fancy basketball theory here. He just needs to hit from 15.
- Go to Kaman early. In addition to getting Chris into the flow of the game (I hate that cliché), it disrupts Denver's break. They love getting out on missed jumpers, but banging down low favors the Clips.
- Dunleavy needs to figure out what he's doing with the second team at the 2/3. I'm a huge Quinton Ross apologist because I feel that winning basketball teams must have players on the floor who don't need the ball. Bruce Bowen. Ben Wallace. Dennis Rodman. Rick Fox. The glue guys. The defenders. The Clippers have four legitimate offensive options in the starting lineup. The Dallas Mavericks of recent years will tell you that the difference between having four and five scorers is negligible in the greater context of playoff basketball. Now it's no secret that Ross can be effective for only 25 minutes or so, but who's next? Corey? Vlad? Singleton?
Corey clearly makes the most sense, but I'm not sure his game dovetails with what the Clippers need - namely someone who can help spread the floor, someone who can control the tempo and someone who will defend in the halfcourt. You want to see something really ugly? Watch Denver's offensive set at 3:08 in slow motion. Watch Maggette hedge on the Patterson screen. Then, as Camby drives from the top of the lane into the Brand/Rebraca double team, what does Corey do? He inexplicably leaves Patterson alone on the baseline to join the morass in the paint. Camby finds Kobestopper for the slam. Atrocious. You can see Cassell glaring at him after the play. Two possessions later off the Radmanovic missed layup, Patterson devours Maggette in transition. Ruben gets the bucket and draws the foul on Maggette. I'm tempted to suggest this means Corey needs to be playing the small forward. Only problem - Corey on ‘Melo is a recipe for disaster. I hope he bounces back tonight and finds his niche in the series. Corey can be a devastatingly potent weapon and physical on the other end when he wants to be.
- Pass the damned ball down the stretch (also -- Mike, throw some new stuff in the mix). It was rigor mortis out there in the fourth quarter because our screens were for shit. Watch the final eighteen minutes and all you see is Denver trap and recover with ease on every pick and roll. (Have I mentioned recently how great Tivo is?) The Clippers try to mix up the side screen roll by having Cassell go left instead of dumping to Brand in the high post -- ‘Melo is ready and waiting. If you watch the tape, though, Kaman has a mismatch on the block time and time again. The old chestnut, "take what the defense gives you" rings true here - and when Denver's bigs step out on Brand at the elbow, they're essentially ceding Kaman. When Chris made that layup at 4:10, do you know who was guarding him? Earl friggin Boykins. K-Mart tried to close, but ended up fouling Kaman instead. That was one of the only intelligible sets the Clips ran in the final five minutes.
It's worth mentioning that K-Mart played some tremendous defense down the stretch and Camby was exceptional, too. This is going to be a phenomenal series.