Unfortunately, we here at FullClips don’t believe in “moral victories.”
That said, we can’t say we aren’t impressed at the Clippers resolve as they overcame a 19 point deficit at Boston to put a scare into the Celtics and their home fans. If not for an obvious flop by Avery Bradley to draw an offensive foul on Jamal Crawford and a bad defensive sequence at the end (more on that shortly), the Clippers were in great position to steal one they had no business winning.
Once again, the loss of Chris Paul tops the list.
Yes, I’m sounding like a broken record every time I write this headline, but facts are facts. With Chris Paul NOT in the lineup, the Clippers average 3 fewer steals, almost 8 fewer points, and barely half the assists. It’s simply hypocritical to ignore CP3′s impact on the team and – let’s not forget – the 25 point bludgeoning they put on the Celtics at Staples back in December. But for all that, what really stuck out was how compromised the Clippers closing unit performs with Paul out. Paul is without a doubt the best end of game manager in the NBA – period – and his performances in close games are unmatched. Whether he finds the right open man for the best shot, takes it himself, grabs the timely steal, etc., Paul knows how to win when it counts. After the Clippers had closed to within two points with under a minute to go, the situation just begged for Paul to close it out.
Bad 2nd quarter again.
In Toronto on Friday, the Clippers let the Raptors run wild in the 2nd quarter to extend a 3 point lead to 16 by halftime. This burst seemed to knock the wind out of the Clippers and they repeated the feat again in Boston, letting a promising 1st quarter deteriorate into a mess of open shots, turnovers, and a season low 10 points total for their 12 minutes of work. With Bledsoe out of the game, again Coach Del Negro had to rely on point guard by committee, which saw ball movement come to a halt, bad passes thrown into heavy coverage, and easy looks the other way.
3-Point defense again shoddy.
What is it about the Clippers defense that enables virtually every team to post their season highs in both made 3-pointers and 3-point percentages? Boston came in averaging five 3′s a game and hit 11 of 18 from beyond the arc. Paul Pierce drained four, including the dagger with less than 3 seconds to play, and Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa both went 3-4. The Clippers, for whatever reason, just seem to lose shooters out yonder and they’ll have to figure out a way to stop teams from posting such gaudy numbers if they are to challenge 3-point shooting monsters like San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
Bledsoe on fire.
Finally, something positive to close this out. Eric Bledsoe, he of the “can’t hit a jumper” variety, came to play and matched his career high in points with 23, most coming in the second half as he almost brought the team back from extinction to win. It’s been the strategy of late for opponents to allow Bledsoe the opportunity to shoot outside, instead cutting off penetration and doubling on Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford. For the first half, the strategy seemed par for the course as Bledsoe once again struggled to score and the rest of the Clippers were harassed into bad shots and poor clock management. However, Bledsoe seemed to come out with a renewed sense of purpose in the last 24 minutes and played perhaps his best basketball as a Clipper. He scored on floaters, jumpers, and fast break dunks, while continuing to defend with energy. If this version of Bledsoe could just show up every night, the losses of Paul and Billups might not sting so much.
Bad last possession strategy.
OK, Vinne, we’ve given you a pass all season long as the team has prospered, but your end-of-game decision to let Paul Pierce run out the clock and get off a 3-point bomb to kill any chance at victory was just plain dumb. First, Boston had a foul to give, so even Pierce missed the shot with approximately 3 seconds to go, the rebound would take another second off the clock, at which point Boston could have fouled to burn yet another second. The right play was to run a second defender at Pierce immediately to try to force him into a bad pass or bad shot. To simply let one of the game’s best closers dribble around with Matt Barnes guarding him one on one was bad coaching at its most obviousl
Topics: Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford, LA Clippers, Lamar Odom, Lob City, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Clippers, Matt Barnes, NBA, Vinny Del Negro