Apr 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers hugs Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during a timeout in the 2nd half of the Clippers 113-103 win over Golden State Warriors in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Clippers: Thoughts From Game 5 Win Over Golden State Warriors

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The Los Angeles Clippers did what we expected them to do — bounce back from the Donald Sterling debacle to take a commanding 3-2 series lead over the Golden State Warriors. DeAndre Jordan went off, scoring 25 points with 18 rebounds and four blocks in a 113-103 win over the visiting Warriors. What did we learn from the Game 5 win?

JORDAN IS THE GOAT

Ok, (DeAndre) Jordan may not be the greatest, but when he’s up against David Lee and/or Jermaine O’Neal, he plays the part of the greatest. They simply can’t stop him. He’s a beast on the glass and even though he shot just 9-for-17 from the foul line, the fact that he created such havoc in the paint was enough to positively affect the game.

Getting opposing bigs in foul trouble is an enormous deal in any game, much less against a team who’s already thin up front. Jordan’s aggressiveness in the paint caused a domino affect, where the Warriors found themselves in foul trouble, then became less aggressive, which opened up the paint for the rest of the team to work.

Blake Griffin had a rather pedestrian 18 points on 6-for-14 from the field, but he didn’t need to be anything more than that Tuesday night, thanks to Jordan’s dominance.

THE BENCH IS BADASS

Apr 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) celebrates after the game against the Golden State Warriors in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers won 113-103. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t anything that we didn’t already know. The Clippers have a deep bench (at least in the backcourt) and the difference between each team’s bench was on full display in Game 5. Darren Collison scored 15 on 4-for-7 from the field and made all six of his free throws. Jamal Crawford (the 2013-14 Sixth Man of the Year) scored 19 on 7-for-13 from the field.

The Clippers bench outscored the Warriors 36-19 and went 9-for-9 from the foul line. By contrast, the Warriors bench went just 2-for-6 from the line (more on this later).

Glen Davis and Danny Granger didn’t have to do too much, but that was less because of ineffectiveness and more because of the matchups. The Clippers were able to go small because of the absence of Andrew Bogut in the middle and instead faced a very small lineup that featured Lee and Draymond Green in the middle for the majority of the game.

EASY POINTS = EASIER WINS

The foul line is one of the easiest places for teams to win (or lose) games. If you can establish a big disparity at the foul line, there’s not much else the opposition can do. Such was the case on Tuesday, as the Warriors shot 13-for-19 (68.4 percent), with the Clippers more than doubling them, at 31-for-41 (75.6 percent).

We could call it the LeBron James rule — if you’re bigger, stronger and faster than your opponent, you’re likely to go to the foul line more often. Such is the case with Jordan and Griffin. They make up arguably the most athletic frontcourt duo in the entire NBA and almost always have a physical mismatch against their opponent.

The Clippers also have one of the craftiest (read: smart, not dirty) point guards in the league in Paul, who routinely gets to the line. On top of that, Collison has been excellent and Crawford owns the patent to the four-point play.

IT’S NOT OVER, BUT IT’S OVER

We knew from the beginning that the Clippers were the more talented (and better coached) team in this series. We also knew the Warriors can get hot in a hurry and play terrific at Oracle Arena. Everything has come into play as we’ve expected, even with the Donald Sterling drama going on.

With the Clippers’ ability to get to the line, their domination in the frontcourt and a deeper bench, there’s just no way the Warriors are going to beat the Clippers in two consecutive games. Los Angeles has the best individual player, the best coach, the best bench and the best chance to win the Western Conference. It’s not over (officially), but this series is over.


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