Clippers Fourth Quarter Woes Cost Them Game 4
When news broke on Friday that Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, there were some murmurs when talking about the Clippers. Depending on how long Westbrook would be out, the Clippers have a possibility of facing Miami in the NBA Finals.
Then this morning when it was announced Westbrook would be out for the rest of the playoffs, I really started taking that notion seriously.
Thankfully I watched the Clippers play, a 104-83 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Reality set, and now I'm looking forward to a Spurs-Heat finals.
I still maintain the Clippers will win this series against Memphis. But while watching them attempt to battle the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter, I really started to question the nature of their team.
Mind you the Grizzlies only had a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. All the Clippers had to do was maintain the defensive pressure and take smart shots, and they would have a chance of closing out the series at home on Tuesday.
The Clippers did try and get the ball inside, but the Grizzlies made sure to make life hard for the Clippers. Although to be honest, it's not that difficult when the Clippers offense comprises of the point guard dribbling the ball while every other player just stands at a spot on the court. No movement to try and force the defenders to switch off. No wonder the Grizzlies can get away with packing the paint.
Meanwhile the Clippers realizing they couldn't penetrate the paint decided to settle for perimeter shots. Low low percentage perimeter shots. The Clippers only shot 30 percent in the final 12 minutes going 1-for-8 beyond the arc while being outscored 33-16.
A lot of the excitment that the Clippers show comes from nailing those outrageous shots, making the extraordinary mundane. But when the law of averages, the regression to the mean rears its ugly head, what then?
The playoffs can be a brutal exercise in the latter, and the Clippers really have no answer to that. So when they possibly get Oklahoma City in the next round, or San Antonio, or whatever team out there that has good defensive discipline. Can the Clippers overcome their frailties on the road?
I don't think they can.
And that's where they are flawed in construction. They have a bunch of shooters who want to play the hero, but when there is no glory to be had they have nothing.
Oh, but Memphis did what they had to do and protected their home court. That's fine. But when in consecutive games you show that much lack of discipline on the offensive end, it doesn't bode well down the line in the playoffs.