NBA Playoffs 2012: What Los Angeles Clippers Need to Improve on to Win Game 2
Game 1 ended with the San Antonio Spurs controlling the entire game. Winning by double digits is something the Spurs are getting used to in these playoffs and they're making it look easy.
The Los Angeles Clippers, on the other hand, fought through a tough first-round series and now come in with a roster more banged up than they began the playoffs with.
When you look back at the first game of this series and see the Clippers lost by 16, you would think they played a horrible game.
But they shot 44 percent from the field and 47 percent from three-point land, making a total of nine.
They had more shots than the Spurs and less turnovers when the final buzzer sounded. Their defense—which has been plaguing them all season—came back to haunt them again.
They couldn't stop the "old," but well-oiled machine called the San Antonio Spurs.
Now, let's look at what the Clippers need to improve on to come out with a Game 2 victory.
Superstars Need to Be Superstars
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Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the two superstars on the Los Angeles Clippers, but didn't look like it in the first game.
They combined to shoot 33 percent from the field with each of them missing 10 shots each.
Yes, they're both playing through injuries, but if the Clippers are going to even have a chance of winning the series—let alone win a game—these two need to produce.
Chris Paul was shut down by the Spurs, which looked to be their game plan from the beginning.
He was constantly forced to give up the ball early on in the clock and without the ball in Paul's hands, the offense sputters. Paul and Vinny Del Negro need to come up with a plan to get Paul better looks from the field.
Blake Griffin looked good coming early on, getting up and down the court easily and throwing down a couple of dunks.
But as time went on, it looked like the injuries were taking a toll on his body.
Even if Griffin isn't scoring, his mere presence on the floor warrants attention from the opposing team. This makes it easier for Paul and his other teammates to get better shots.
Guard the Three-Point Line
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The San Antonio Spurs tied a franchise record in Game 1, going 13-25 from three-point land.
The Clippers didn’t contest most of their shots from behind the arc, which ultimately was a downfall for them. The Spurs came in as the best shooting team in the playoffs from three-point range, but the Clippers need to find a way to drop their shooting percentage.
They shoot 20-plus field goals from outside per game—so you know they're going to get their shots up. It's just getting a hand up to contest them that can make the difference.
I think the Clippers were so worried about Tony Parker, which they should be, that they collapsed their defense into the paint, leaving open shooters on the outside.
Maybe switching up their defense from time to time during the game can shake the Spurs up a bit to get them off-balance.
The Shooting Guard Position
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Paging Randy Foye!
As the starting shooting guard, Foye hasn't produced at all these playoffs and that didn't change in Game 1.
Foye played 21 minutes, only scoring three points and not really doing anything else, to be honest.
The Clippers need to get some points out of Foye to contend against the Spurs. He replaced Chauncey Billups after his injury and played well during the regular season, but we've had yet to see that in the playoffs.
Then you have a sixth man of the year contender, Mo Williams, coming off the bench to put the same stats up as Foye in the same amount of minutes.
Los Angeles has relied on Williams all year to give them scoring off the bench because they aren't the most potent offense. A veteran like Williams needs to step it up and give the team more than three points.
The two bright spots were Eric Bledsoe and Nick Young, who gave the Clippers 36 points off the bench. Throughout the playoffs so far, these two have brought energy and hustle into the lineup.
But it just seems to me like Del Negro doesn't play Young as much. He did have 20 minutes in the first game, but if Williams and Foye are having bad games, put Young in to give this offense some scoring.