LOS ANGELES — So this is what happens when Blake Griffin isn’t in foul trouble.
With their backs against the wall and the daunting fate of a 0-2 deficit heading back to Oakland staring them in the face, the Clippers responded with their most impressive win of the season, crushing the Warriors 138-98 to tie the first round series up at 1-1.
From the opening tip, the game was never in doubt. The Clippers exerted their will defensively, closing out promptly on shooters and pressuring ball handlers into turnovers. Offensively, they moved the ball swiftly, found the open man and made the Warriors pay for their inattentive D.
Griffin was particularly dominant, scoring a playoff career-high 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting in 30 minutes. The Warriors throw different defenders and coverages at him, but it was no use. He was simply unstoppable, as he has been in his brief time this series.
"I thought he took it when he had it, moved it when he didn’t," coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought our spacing was great, and Blake just stayed on the attack. That’s what we wanted him to do."
Chris Paul added: "You saw tonight how dominant he is. Last game had 16 points in 19 minutes, and I think when we play that way, we play with that force and thrust, it’s tough to defend us."
The 40-point win marked the largest playoff win in Clippers history, and the 138 points were also a playoff record. The Clippers wanted revenge, and they got it. Let’s see if they can keep it up as the series moves to Oakland.
Here are five takeaways from Game 2:
Chris Paul attributes Monday’s Game 2 win to Blake Griffin WATCH VIDEO
Blake The Great
With no Andrew Bogut in the lineup, the Warriors don’t have a player capable of stopping Griffin one on one. This creates an inherent advantage for Los Angeles, as Golden State has no choice but to double and/or rotate frantically. The result is either Griffin breaking free and attacking the rim, or him finding a wide-open teammate spotting up for 3 or cutting to the rim. In the 49 minutes he’s played this series, the Clippers are +31. In the 47 minutes he’s been off the floor, the Clippers are +5. He’s been the key difference.
Sticking to the script
Despite their lack of success defending the secondary actions of the Warriors’ pick and rolls in Game 1, the Clippers stuck to their plan and continued trapping Steph Curry. This time, however, they were faster and more aggressive in their rotations, which helped force 26 Golden State turnovers. The plan continued to stymie Curry, holding him to just four points in the first half. Curry got hot in the second half, but the deficit was insurmountable. Until the Warriors make a proper adjustment, the Clippers need to keep exploiting this.
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Tightening the rotation
With Griffin able to play more minutes, Rivers stuck with his starters for longer stretches. The results were fantastic. In the 23 minutes they played together, they outscored the Warriors’ primary lineups by 17. Heading into the fourth, each starter had played at least 23 minutes, and would’ve played considerably more if the game has been closer. It’ll be interesting to see if Rivers makes his starters log heavy minutes, as role players tend to play worse away from home.
Finally stepping up
The Clippers’ bench is as inconsistent as they come. Tonight, though, they made up for their horrible Game 1 performance. Danny Granger (15 points) and Hedo Turkoglu (13) were on fire, combining to shoot 6 of 9 from downtown. Not only did the bench maintain the lead the starters built — they increased it. It’s not reasonable to expect this type of performance every game, but if they can play solid defense and knock down open jumpers, the Clippers should be able to steal at least one game in Oakland.
Doc says he's not surprised at the way his team bounced back tonight. "As Dennis Green says, they are who we thought they were!" #Clippers
After losing only their second game this season when making nine or more 3-pointers, the Clippers made 12 of 25 (48 percent) and won. It sounds intuitive, but they’re an entirely different team when they make a few timely 3s. It’s almost impossible to leave Chris Paul in single coverage on pick and rolls, so when the Warriors try to trap and force him to the sideline, he’s able to pick the defense apart and kick out to shooters. If they make their shots, Golden State has to adjust. If they don’t, the Warriors can collapse and put more pressure on Paul.