The Scouting Report: Los Angeles Clippers, Game 6
Projected starting line-up: Austin Rivers, JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, DeAndre Jordan
The Los Angeles Clippers without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin performed about how they were expected to. The effort was there and so too were the few big names left on the roster fans know about. But nobody was really quite sure how they would play together or who all would be on the court. The starting line-up that took the floor in Game 5 was one that had barely seen the floor all season.
JJ Redick nearly played all of his minutes alongside Chris Paul but he was the major focal point of the offense without him. Often a source of points at the start of games even when the Clippers are at full strength, he got the Clippers going early. He handled the ball some more and got some more secondary handoffs after the first look wasn’t there.
And that was a sign for the Clippers entire attack. The Clippers just can’t hang with the Blazers in their current state. No matter how much off ball action and ball movement they have, their lack of talent can’t make up for it in a playoff series where every advantage and mismatch is exploited.
The pictures in this series matter much less than the competitiveness and the coaching. The Clippers can hang with coaching and hard work but only if the Blazers talent and coaching fail to work hard. That’s the hard truth of this series where it is and a certain point, saying that Paul Pierce is a defensive liability is a moot point. Every playoff series reaches this point and Game 6 has now presented that.
Defensively, the Clippers likely won’t change their philosophy but clearly only have the personnel to deal with just one of Lillard and McCollum, not both. McCollum really hurt the Clippers in the second half, scoring 16 of his 27 points in the second half and cooking everybody who guarded him. Now that Rivers knows he can’t score without Paul, his team’s defense is suffering. A key part of their success during the regular season, Luc Mbah a Moute got a DNP in Game 5.
We’re really at a point no return in the series in terms of tactics. I recommend you read through all of the other scouting reports if you really need a tactical breakdown of a series that is very likely over.
If Rivers elects to keep Green (or Mbah a Moute, or anybody who can play defense) on the bench, the Clippers defense will continue to suffer and that can’t happen against a Blazers defense that’s been the fourth best in the league since Game 1 of the series. Playing Rivers is welcoming a lane to the rim and Redick has proven ineffective against McCollum after one game. McCollum led the Blazers with 27 points and clearly showed the Clippers have no answer for him.
I’ll admit that this scouting report is a little lighter than most in this series but there’s not a lot to say, especially after the Blazers showed how much difference talent can make in Game 5. They’ll get Redick moving off the ball and if Jamal Crawford actually hits his shots the Blazers could be in for a tough one.
With the home court, the momentum and the overall edge in talent, the Blazers should take care of business in this game and set up a second round match-up against the mighty Warriors.