Andrew wrote:Clippers are still shaky in crunch time. Fortunately for them, the Blazers didn't quite have enough time to completely erase the double digit deficit with a late run, but it seemed like the Clippers were doing all they could to choke away the game. They'll have to sort that out if they're ever going to be more than a spectacular and successful regular season team.
I watched this whole game, and the Celtics/Bulls game. My thoughts:
The Celtics got beat 18 to 3 on Offensive Rebounds, Amir Johnson and Al Horford combined SHOULD be doing better than that. However, it seems other teams are beating the Celtics to the 50/50 balls once they clank off the rim. They had more shot creators than the Celtics, and that was the other difference in the game. You saw Butler shot creating, same with Wade, and Michael Carter-Williams was the X factor for a stretch, once again by being a shot creator. The Celtics had Thomas who was getting his own shot, but other than that.. nothing. Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder are not really one on one players, and offensively they have a pretty limited repertoire. Taj Gibson made a couple huge baskets right in the paint at the end of the game, that is unacceptable. Jaylen Brown had some growing pains at the end of the game there, but I give props to Brad Stevens for leaving him on the floor.
I would like to see the Celtics get out on the break more when they have Gerald Green/I.T./Brown etc on the floor. But, that would require the Celtics to force long rebound opportunities.... which really isn't happening because teams are hitting a lot of outside shots on them, and they are getting crushed on the boards. This Celtics team is young and fast, even when they go to the second unit, the lack of fastbreak points is a little concerning. Wade hit 4-6 Threes, last year he hit 7 threes TOTAL all year. Sometimes I get frustrated reading the articles on these games (local and national), because they are not mentioning many of the big picture issues that come with these teams. I havn't seen any articles talking about the Celtics lack of fastbreak opportunities, or the lack of shot creators, which to me are glaring weaknesses. They mention Wades threes, and the Celtics weak rebounding, but nothing about the other issues. In the recap for the Celtics/Brooklyn game (On any articles I read, and I read a bunch of the stories on that game), it wasn't once mentioned that Lin shouldn't have been taken out when he was, even though it was obvious to anyone that was watching that he shouldn't have been out that long. For the Clippers recaps, I didn't see the Plumlee impact remotely talked about accurately, and I didn't see any mention about him being taken out for that LONG stretch, when he was the motor for the Blazers. I also didn't see any conversation about the Blazers hectic offense in the fourth quarter. Sometimes I wonder if all these articles are rushed, or if the writer even watched the full game.
The Blazers game was tough to watch for a few reasons. However, it was a very entertaining game. Plumlee was the Blazers motor for huge stretches in the game, he did get a T, but it fired up his team. He had a dunk under the hoop in the 3rd quarter, and than they threw an alley oop to him, and he threw it down hard. He was also getting to all the 50-50 balls it seemed. Than, similar to the Brooklyn game vs the Celtics where they ripped Lin out when he was the best player on the floor, they took Plumlee out for many minutes in the 3rd quarter, and didn't put him back in until they were down 14 (95-81) midway through the 4th quarter. He wasn't breathing hard, he wasn't tired, he was just.... taken out... One of the things that frustrates me the most watching the NBA now is how the players are completely babied. It's always been an 82 game season, stop putting guys on the bench who are playing really well when they are NOT showing any signs of fatigue. Plumlee will never be a superstar, but when he is playing like that, keep the man in the game, otherwise the other team can go on a run. Another takeaway, Chris Paul gets away with way to much, and in big moments. Damian Lillard was running in a straight line down the middle of the floor, not swiping for the ball, and Chris Paul made it a point to not just run in front of Lillard to block his path (Which is perfectly fine to do), but jumping backwards into him with his butt sending Lillard crashing to the ground. It's a dirty play, that's not a basketball play. He was also bailed out at the end there when Napier was just running up the middle of the floor (This was a CRUCIAL possession), and Paul initiates the contact by plowing into Napier (turning left into him) and throwing the ball up towards the hoop. Paul goes to the line and hits two crucial FT's. He is one HELL of a player, but he is dirty. I don't mind crafty players, or veteran moves, but he just plays downright dirty sometimes. For the Blazers, I would have liked to see them show a little more maturity in that 4th quarter. They were playing 100 mph and not running anything. They made everything look tough. I didn't see hardly any off ball screens for Mccollum, even though he clearly had his shot going there for a small stretch. Instead of doing that, they decided to go with the easy route, and let Aminu keep shooting open shots (Which the Clippers were giving him).
Also to note: Crabbe has the potential to play a huge role for the Blazers if he can be consistent. To me, he is what Von Wafer SHOULD have been. They are the same type of player, but Crabbe has more confidence and hustles more. Harkless has shown dramatic improvement, it was nice to see him and Vonleh be aggressive. That team can really get up and down the floor. Ed Davis, as expected, didn't make much of an impact at all, he actually looked lost in most of the offensive sets. and defensively he was a pushover. Evan Turner seemed to get frustrated with himself after missing 4 or 5 makeable jumpers where he created space. He made some quality passes, but his assist tally was low because the Blazers laid bricks on those shots. I think Turner will be huge for them off the bench, but he needs to find that comfort zone that he had with the Celtics.
Either way, I liked that for the MOST PART, the refs were letting them play. It's nice to see that physical brand of basketball.