NBA Playoffs 2015: How Clippers Can Win Game 6


Game 5 of Clippers-Spurs, where San Antonio squeaked away with a narrow 111-107 victory over Los Angeles, was highly intense and made for great entertainment. Although Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to foul DeAndre Jordan nearly every time the Clippers gained possession in the third quarter was a bit tedious, TNT commentators Marv Albert and Reggie Miller were glued to their courtside seats, adamant that they didn’t want this game (or series) to end. Well, Marv and Reggie, Clippers fans across the world agree with you guys on that one as a loss in San Antonio in Game 6 would put an end to Doc Rivers and his Clippers’ season.

To prevent a consecutive series loss that would be fatal to their season, Los Angeles needs to make adjustments and execute better. When he’s not criticizing officials, Rivers has been preaching execution in his interviews and conferences.

“Down the stretch, everybody is tired. But it’s a factor for everybody, so it’s not really an advantage or disadvantage for anybody.” – Blake Griffin

First, Chris Paul needs some help in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. Although Paul’s performance down the stretch hasn’t been perfect, he has certainly been let down in those crucial moments by Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. In the most pivotal game of the series, Game 5, Griffin and Jordan floundered in the second half after posting impressive numbers in the first two quarters of the game. Griffin, 21 points in the first half, only netted 9 points in the preceding 24 minutes of the game, settling for mid-range jumpers instead of forcefully driving to the hoop (like we know he can) on several possessions in the fourth to no avail. Jordan continued to be a force on the defensive end, contesting shots and pulling down rebounds. However, DeAndre struggled mightily from the free throw line and was called for a decisive offensive goaltending call in the closing seconds.

The inefficiency of Griffin and Jordan raised questions of fatigue and Griffin even hinted to reporters that it was a factor in the fourth quarter. “Down the stretch, everybody is tired,” Griffin said following Game 5. “It’s a factor. But it’s a factor for everybody, so it’s not really an advantage or disadvantage for anybody.”

The Clippers bench needs to have more of an impact to give guys like Griffin and Jordan a chance to rest to be at their peak in moments where it matters most, like the fourth quarter sequence in which Tim Duncan’s energy was on full display, blocking Griffin’s shot attempt twice.

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The bench of the Clippers has been Doc Rivers’ achilles heel all season, as a successful overall effort from the reserves have come few and far in between this year. The lack of production is highlighted by Spencer Hawes and Glen Davis, who are Jordan and Griffin’s understudies respectively. As of late, Hawes’ inefficiency has all but confined him to the bench as he has only appeared in only two of the five games this postseason. Davis has been more effective than Hawes, as he was 3-for-4 in Game 5 in 11 minutes. However, Davis has been a liability on defense—likely the reason his role has remained minuscule to the team.

Lastly, DeAndre Jordan needs to make his free throws.

That simple.

Coach Popovich of the Spurs decided to “Hack-a-Jordan” several times in the third quarter.  Jordan’s inability to make the shots from the line (2 of 6 in third quarter) resulted in more intentional fouls from San Antonio’s Matt Bonner and Patty Mills, which eventually led to Rivers’ removal of Jordan. Jordan’s absence is detrimental to the Clippers on both sides of the floor, as the team loses a a tenacious rebounder and shot blocker, along with a high-flying dunk machine on offense.

The adjustments aren’t easy, but they could be the difference in the Clippers having an early summer vacation or them extending the series, with a chance to advance to the next round at home in front of their fans.

Next: Clippers-Spurs Game 6 Preview: Can L.A. Hang On?