Take note, NBA. Stock up on water and canned goods, the whole landscape of the NBA is ready for a seismic shift. The Lo Angeles Clippers gave a glimpse of things to come next year, building up a comfortable lead to as much as 23 point in the 3rd, then withstanding the prerequisite “pride charge” by the Boston Celtics late in the 4th to hold on for a rare 108-105 road win. From the jump, the Clips looked like a new team; they played with confidence, shot the ball well from deep, and defended like demons in the 1st half. The most amazing part of this win was this stat line:
|12||4 – 14||7||5||2||2|
If that was Ryan Gomes? Excellent. Al-Farouq Aminu? Exceptional. But if you’d told me before the game that Blake Griffin would be the creator of such an “eh” line in a VICTORY against the team with the 2nd most wins in the NBA, I’d slap you for lying to me, then dip while you called your friends. Yesterday, here, we talked about some things the Clips would have to do to topple the Eastern Conference leaders. Let’s take a look, critique that performance:
Blake vs KG: So Blake laid a stinker of a game; playing against one of the greatest defensive forwards of a generation will do that. On the OTHER end, Kevin Garnett went for 16 and 8, but shot a shoddy 6-19 and had a team low -16 +/-. The Great PF Battle is a push.
Celtic Newbies: Since the Celts traded Perkins for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, the focus on the newcomers replacing the fan and teammate favorite has been intense. From the Clips perspective, on the plus side, Jeff Green was held to 6 points on 2-6 shooting, and not much else (he did can a HUGE 3 in the closing seconds to put some fear in the ClipperNation). HOWEVER…Jeff Green DID was a team high +13 in +/- and Krstic went off to the tune of 20 and 9 on 70% shooting.
Paul Pierce Control: By zooming to a huge lead, the Clippers negated Pierce’s ability to singlehandedly dominate lesser teams. Let’s look at the SF match-up:
If the Clips get anywhere close to that kind of production from the SF position on a consistent basis, they’ll be in the mix to win a lot of games.
Rajon Rondo: Rondo’s numbers were decent; 13 pts, 9 asts, 7 boards, but the Clips, especially Mo Williams and Randy Foye, kept the pressure on him by attacking offensively. Mo William was smoking from the jump, going 7 for 9 from the floor in the 1st half (he ended up with a game high 28), and while Foye didn’t shoot it particularly well (2-7, 9 pts), he had 12 dimes and only 2 turnovers. Mo Williams combined with Eric Bledsoe to eradicate the Celts point guard combo of Rondo and Carlos Arroyo; Mo and Eric hit for 35 points, 6 dimes, and 6 rbs. Once Mo cuts down on the turnovers (6!!), the league will have a real problem.
Defense: The Clips were active early, getting their hands on all types of Celtic passes while opening up a 13 point 1st quarter lead on the Celts. More than the defense, DeAndre Jordan being such an offensive force made the real difference. Coming in averaging 7 and 7, DJ went off for 21 points and 9 boards on 10 shots. Dude dunked. A LOT. Toss Chris Kaman’s 10 and 5 off the bench, the Clippers thoroughly dominated the C’s inside.
This is just one regular season game versus a team in flux; the Celtics are trying to shoehorn 5 new players into their rotation. That being said, a month ago, the Clippers would have been demolished in a game like this. Clipper Nation looks to keep the winning streak rolling in New Jersey tomorrow night at 7 PM EST.