Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers
MVP: Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum had huge bounce back games with 59 combined points, but it was Mason Plumlee that truly opened the game up for the Blazers as he was able to dominate the glass and play the role of facilitator to get through the Clippers traps. His 9 assists and 21 rebounds are both playoff career highs, and a serious factor in Portland’s 18 second-chance points.
That was … struggles with execution: Doc Rivers mentioned in the postgame interview that he found the Clippers execution to lead to some “interesting” plays, suggesting that the Clippers weren’t getting offense in their usual ways. Portland’s defense was certainly looked aggressive tonight, but the Clippers did themselves no favors by missing many of their open chances as well. The combination resulted in a 42.6% eFG for the game, nearly 10 percent off of their regular season mark.
X factor: The Clippers only went 3/18 from deep for the game, a rare feat for a team that averaged 9.7 made three-pointers during the regular season. This marks only the 8th time in the last three seasons, playoffs included, that the team has only made 3 or less threes. They now have a 3-5 record in those games.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 24, 2016
— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) April 24, 2016
Wow. Mason Plumlee to the podium, while Damian Lillard does interviews at his locker. #PodiumGame
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 24, 2016
Check Your Messages
On most nights, there is enough firepower on the roster that the lack of offensive punch that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute provides is not an issue; he brings plenty in other aspects of the game as a defensive specialist, and has been one of the keys to keeping C.J. McCollum in check. When the rest of the offense struggles, however, that makes it more difficult to keep him in the lineup.
With J.J. Redick having an off night and Blake Griffin still not looking sharp from midrange, would it have been a bad call to play Mbah a Moute down the stretch? It’s not a common choice for Doc Rivers, a coach whose rotations seem to be formed largely based on trust and letting those players he trusts to play through their mistakes. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time that trust has been rewarded as shooters end up finding their rhythm. To deviate too far from his gameplan, despite the amount of criticism that gameplan receives for giving big minutes to an all bench lineup, might even seem desperate.
This isn’t to take away from the contributions the all-bench lineup had in the first two games, either, though a case could certainly be made that their collective performance tonight did the team no favors. Plus, the finality of playoff situations just lend themselves to desperation.
Against a Blazers team that is now 15-3 at home since February, shouldn’t any and all opportunities to limit the amount of games the team has to play in order to advance be on kept on the table?
Views from Staples
I went to STAPLES Center Saturday night to sit in on the Game 3 Viewing Party. I had never been to a viewing party of any kind before, let alone a National Basketball Association playoff game.
All of the season ticket holders were invited; the ones who showed up fit comfortably in one quadrant of the arena’s lower bowl. While the game in Dallas was wrapping up, DJ Dense and Chuck the Condor hosted Clippers ticket holders as they attempted shots at half court to get reductions on their deals for next season. I’m pretty sure only two fans made it from halfcourt all game, and they shot for more than two hours.
Of course, the Clippers made a season-low 3-of-18 3-pointers all game, so the struggle resonated up the coast. Still… even when Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum got off to strong starts, and even when the Trail Blazers took their first double-digit lead of the series in the first half of Game 3, the Clippers crowd at STAPLES stayed upbeat. The Clippers Spirit helped (I want to make a skit someday about getting thousands of people excited over airborne t-shirts and arena trinkets), and with the Prime Ticket feed being used, it was a competing atmosphere of sound. The fans at STAPLES Center canceled out any cheering you heard from the broadcast at Moda Center.
Oh, but I have to be cruel now, because the cheers turned to silent tears when the Trail Blazers went on that 15-1 run to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The Clippers were extremely deflating during that stretch: 0/6 FGs, 1/6 FTs (all DeAndre Jordan), outrebounded 7-2. Blake Griffin had an awful turnover out of one timeout that led to C.J. McCollum FTs and nearly a flagrant foul on Chris Paul. J.J. Redick’s three rimming out after another timeout just added to the cause for the Clippers fans to see themselves out of the building before the final score.
The Clippers loss means there will be a Game 5, though. Maybe the Clippers close it out with the fans in the building with the team?