Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: For the second game in a row, DeAndre Jordan proved to be a force in the paint, finishing the night with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks. He even had a stretch late in the 2nd quarter where he would make four consecutive free throws. This would also be DeAndre Jordan’s 46th double-double of the season, putting him one short of his career high from just a season ago.
That was … a bench bonanza: Chris Paul would have his first back-to-back games of under 30 minutes, and that was thanks to an outpouring of offense from the bench tonight. The reserves had their highest scoring output of the season with 67 points, with four players on the second unit scoring in double-digits.
X factor: Coming into tonight’s contest, the Boston Celtics lead the league in opponent three-point percentage, holding teams they face to only 32.6%. Nonetheless, the Clippers found opportunities to make timely shots from behind the arc, hitting 11 of their 25 three-point attempts for 44%.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Jamal Crawford must love draining these shots against IT and AB. The teacher is still the teacher.
— James Toscano (@Jimmy_Toscano) March 29, 2016
Really hoping Doc hit RJ with a, "I think I got traded for you!" pic.twitter.com/1bIHgvATPF
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 29, 2016
Doc on Paul Pierce's injury: "Lakers fans probably thought they'd bring out a wheelchair."
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 29, 2016
Check Your Messages
Gaining Traction in the Post
The Clippers have boxes they need to check off in order to have a successful playoff run. Every game from here on out should offer a glimpse into their overall state leading up to Round 1. One element to be gleaned from tonight’s retribution win of the Celtics is DeAndre Jordan’s post play. He did not register particularly gaudy numbers, no career high, and nothing that would necessarily hit you upside the head if you weren’t paying attention. His line is almost always efficient – an expected result when you catch as many lobs as he does. But tonight felt like he was at ease on the offensive end. Several possession’s during the second and third quarters he went to a jump hook with little hesitation. I’ve always felt if D.J. could evolve offensively even slightly, it would open a new dimension in the Clippers offense.
As a team, L.A. outscored Boston 42-34 in paint points, but that advantage can – and likely will – increase upon Blake Griffin’s return. Jordan can finish with both hands and he should continue to feel out his defender in the post and spin off, going to his jump hook with confidence. The thought has a little redundancy to it but the advantages can be beneficial in the playoffs when things get dicey and unpredictable. Jordan is not Hakeem in the post and does not need to be, but it’s good to know when the offense grinds to a halt during a playoff series, his presence in the trenches is not a liability.
With the Celtics coming into STAPLES Center tonight, I’m sure you all were expecting a semi-nationally broadcast thriller. After all, the Celtics took the Clippers to overtime in February, beating them 139-134 in a game where both defenses got a head start on the All-Star Break.
What we got instead was a mirror image of Los Angeles’ Easter Sunday win against the Nuggets.
In both home games, the Clippers went on multiple impressive runs in the first quarter, only to be up by single digits. Tonight against Boston, the lead was 30-24 after one.
In both games, the Clippers dominated the middle of the game. L.A. outscored Boston by 16 points in the second and third quarters.
In both games, DeAndre Jordan had a double-double with multiple blocks by the end of the third quarter. Tonight, Jordan racked up 15 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks.
And by the end of the game, the starters didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter. Six players scored in double figures tonight, with “three-day Celtic” Austin Rivers leading the team with 16 points on nine shots.
Finally, the Clippers allowed only 90 points in both games of this back-to-back. That’s one thing when it comes against a Denver team playing out the string. It’s so much more impressive when it comes against a Boston team that was playing its only game in a four-day stretch. When the Clippers look in the mirror, they’ll see a team that is now 7-7 this month. That’s a much better image than the one from just a week ago.
With all the consternation about the pattern of rotations that Doc Rivers has consistently employed through most of the season, the past two games have been promising for those hoping to see a greater stagger between the starters and the second unit. There are certainly moments still where not a single starter is out alongside the second unit, but at the same time, these periods have been shorter as Chris Paul and J.J. Redick get substituted earlier in the first quarter while DeAndre Jordan remains on the floor with the second unit. This had allowed the starting backcourt to return earlier in the second quarter, while DJ gets a longer rest through the period.
There has also been a more liberal juggling of minutes for the forwards, allowing Wesley Johnson to be the first forward off the bench, while also giving Jeff Green a larger role in the second unit.
How much of this small sample is experiment and how much it is a plan towards repetition has yet to be seen, especially with Blake Griffin on the verge of returning. His level of endurance given his time away from the game certainly factors in to how many minutes he’ll be able to stay on the floor. But it does also show that a coach who has perhaps gotten much more criticism than is due for all he has done to keep this team playing well without one of their best players is more receptive to adaptation than he’s given credit for.