Los Angeles Clippers (1) vs. Houston Rockets (0)
6:30 p.m. PST
May 6, 2015
FOX Prime Ticket/ TNT
Video of the Day
Without CP3, it’s two points guards in one…
1. What’s more impressive: Blake Griffin the triple-double machine or Blake Griffin the point guard?
Ethan Rothstein, The Dream Shake (@ethanrothstein): Blake Griffin the point guard. We always knew he can score and people are dumb if they thought he forgot how to rebound. But he’s never had to run an offense before, thanks to Chris Paul. His ability to dictate the game — and relieve Austin Rivers of that role — was astounding and disheartening to watch as a Rockets fan. He’s better than any healthy point guard on the Rockets’ roster.
Brandon Tomyoy, (@dingyu): The great news for the Clippers is that they don’t have to choose, but what is the bigger surprise has been the return to form seen in Griffin’s rebounding. The passing ability has been there for much of the last couple seasons, and the uptick in Blake’s assists could be considered a reaction or effect of how much Chris Paul had to look for his own shot against the Spurs, or in the case of with Houston, Chris Paul not being on the floor at all. On the other hand, Blake hasn’t averaged double-digit rebounds since his rookie year, and with so much of his game now moved away from the basket, it seemed less likely for him to crash the glass with that same abandon moving forward. To see that come back has been a revelation, but it should be noted that the ability to take the ball up the court immediately after the rebound is likely helping those assist numbers as well.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): Blake Griffin, the point master. Definitely. We’ve seen 6-foot-10 guys get triple-doubles before. What we hardly ever see is a power forward who finds most of his success operating inside of the arc take over the second-half of a playoff game not by running an offense out of the high post, but by doing it as a more traditional point.
2. How do the Clippers continue to slow James Harden down?
Rothstein: Leave DeAndre Jordan near the rim and play tight on him around the perimeter. Jordan is the great equalizer on defense, allowing the Clippers to hug Harden on the outside without fear that, if he gets past them, he has an easy layup. When the Rockets run a pick-and-roll and involve Jordan, his length makes Harden’s normally pristine passing problematic. Everything they did in Game 1, they’ll try to replicate for as long as the series goes.
Tomyoy: They should continue to stay in front of him and force him towards DeAndre Jordan just like they did in Game 1. This is where J.J. Redick has been so good against The Beard, really. He appears fully aware of the limitations he does have on defense, opting not to reach for the ball and to keep his feet on the ground on pump fakes. That James Harden was in foul trouble for much of the game was part of it, and it would shock the world if he had another game where he only shot six free throws, but the principles of what the Clippers have been doing have to be considered when Harden has had trouble against LAC the past couple seasons.
Katz: I don’t know what it is about J.J. Redick, but he’s like the Ruben Patterson to James Harden’s Kobe (even if Patterson wasn’t actually the “Kobe Stopper” he claimed to be). The Clips have done a great job the past two seasons of trapping Harden around pick-and-rolls and getting the ball out of his hands. He’ll kill them at some point, but that strategy seems to work better than any other.
3. Over/Under: 10.5 Hack-a-Whomevers FT attempts in Game 2.
Rothstein: Under. We didn’t hit that number last game, I don’t think, and I’m an optimist that Doc and McHale will not subject us to too much of this.
Tomyoy: I’ll take the over. There will just be too many opportunities for either coach to hack a player in hopes of getting an extra possession or to disrupt the pace of play, especially if Harden is pushing the Clippers’ team foul count early in quarters. I wouldn’t exactly call it a Machiavellian tactic. Maybe a Hachiavellian tactic?