Category Archives: Los Angeles Clippers

NBA or YMCA? – The Dumbing Down of Pro Basketball

Of course, things were always better back in the day and you come off sounding like an old fuddy duddy when you bemoan the fundamentals (or lack thereof) in today’s NBA.  But the real basketball purists – Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith –  have had enough. And so have I.

The comedy of errors in the last minute of Oklahoma City’s win over the L.A. Clippers was mind-boggling, especially since a number of them were committed by arguably the best point guard in the league, Chris Paul.  We’ve come to expect unorthodox plays from The Human Torch, aka Russell Westbrook or Dum Dum Number One, according to the Chuckster.  However, when CP3 (Dum Dum Number Two) pulls not one, not two, but THREE bonehead plays in the final minute to help lose the game, it’s time to reflect.

Throughout the years, new things come into vogue.  For a while, it was headbands – still championed by Lebron James and the resurrected Al Harrington.  Then it became shooting sleeves.  And now, apparently, it’s fouling guys taking three point shots. There have been an unprecedented number of fouls committed on out-of-range shooters in the playoffs and an equally unprecedented number of three-and-one plays as well.

Last night, Paul may have flicked Westbrook’s elbow on a likely unmakeable three, but the bigger sin was even coming close enough to get called for a foul. Repeat after me.  You should never foul a jump shooter.  Especially when he is five feet beyond the arc.  You deserve whatever happens when you do.

And I’m not even going to get into the Reggie Jackson bail out, when he ignored the obvious dish opportunity on a three-on-one break and tried to be the hero.  Why Matt Barnes was reaching in made no sense, whether or not it was the worst call in playoff history (Doc Rivers) or if it was the proper call per the suddenly read by everyone on the planet NBA rule book (highly unlikely). It was a stupid play all around.

 

Some people consider the Thunder-Clippers matchup a great series. Right now, I consider it a battle of half wits, which is better than no wits, I guess. The winner of the series?  The team that doesn’t go completely brain dead down the stretch like both have done in games four and five.

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Whose Dynamic Duo is Better? – This Series May Settle The Question

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There are a pair of Batman and Robin’s on the court for the Oklahoma City Thunder – L.A. Clippers NBA Western Semifinal series and the argument rages on as to which duo is numero uno.

On one side, Blake Griffin, third place in the NBA MVP voting, alongside Chris Paul, perennial all-star and arguably the top point guard in the NBA.

On the other side, league MVP Kevin Durant and all-star human dynamo Russell Westbrook, who may be closer to the Human Torch than Robin.

In game one of the best of seven Monday night in Oklahoma City, the combined numbers were fairly close but in the Clippers favor. Griffin and Paul combined for 19-of-30 shooting, 8-0f-9 from three-point range (all Paul), 9-of-12 from the line (all Griffin) for 55 points, seven rebounds and 15 assists. Durant and Westbrook combined for 18-of-33 shooting, 4-of-10 threes, 14-of-18 from the line for 54 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Chris Paul hit his first seven threes on Monday night

Chris Paul hit his first seven threes on Monday night

The big difference in the game was the fact that the rest of the Thunder players combined to score three fewer points than Durnat and Westbrook combined, along with the fact that nobody covered Paul or the rest of the Clippers from three-point range as they hit a whopping 15-of-29.

Griffin and Paul work more in tandem, feeding off each other’s offensive and defensive actions and knowing how to complement (and compliment) each other. Griffin sensed early in game one that Paul had the feeling, so instead of posting up and calling for the ball, he came high and set screens to get Paul free.

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“When somebody’s got it going like that, you just try to stay of the way as much as possible, but also help keep that fire going,” said the Oklahoma City native Griffin.  “In the second half, we were moving the ball so well, but it all started defensively. We just tried to stay out of his way and let him do what he was doing.”

For Paul’s part, as Westbrook put it, “He wasn’t doing anything crazy.  He was just shooting threes.”  Paul didn’t go out looking to have a big offensive game, but  as just took what he was given.

“It wasn’t like I was coming down and making unbelievable shot,” said Paul., “It was because the court was open and I had two defenders on Blake. He puts so much pressure on the defense and BG is such a great passer.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers described Paul this way.

“He’s just very, very smart .  He sometimes gets in the way with that because he’s thinking so much, but today he was in a great place,” said Rivers. “He played free without thought but when we needed him to, he did it.  I thought his intuition was phenomenal.  He knew we needed a good start and he got one for us.  That’s why he’s just who he is.

After playing a controlled game in the first round series finale against Memphis, Westbrook reverted somewhat to his Jekyll and Hyde ways, hitting most of his shots, but committing some unforced turnovers, six of them to be exact.  Durant missed some chippies that he would normally convert and both he and Westbrook were part of the Thunder’s total defensive collapse.

By the time the Thunder made enough contact with the Clippers to pick up their first team foul, L.A. already had 32 points and there was just over a minute left in the opening quarter.  Durant knows the defense must tighten up.

“We have to get more physical,” said Durant. “I’m not talking about hard fouls, I’m talking about jamming the lane, fighting through screens and not letting guys run free.  We just have to be more physical.”

 

Coach Scott Brooks and his MVP must figure it out before Wednesday night
Coach Scott Brooks and his MVP must figure it out before Wednesday night

It’s not often that you are treated to these type of combos matched up in one series.  If the Thunder’s stars can rally back in game two Wednesday night, the debate on which duo has the o