Clippers-Trail Blazers Game 1: Five key things we learned

Apr 17, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer (left, center) cheers during the first half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer (left, center) cheers during the first half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 17, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) controls the ball against Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) and guard Chris Paul (3) during the second half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

4 – Preparing for Change

I’m the first to step to the podium when Doc Rivers does wrong. Rotations. Trade. Free agency. Coaching nitpicking. You name it and I’ve an opinion on it. Outside of rotations and keeping the starters in way too long and in doing so, subjecting the public to Hack-A-DJ, Rivers hit the nail on the head in regards to his gameplay on the defensive end.

Even with McCollum’s rise to prominence, it’s Damian Lillard who draws the attention, and Rivers wasted no time attacking him the second he stepped past half court.

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If Terry Stotts is the coach people speak him up to be, the odds Portland enters Game 2 with no improved way to attack Los Angeles’ double team, it could be lights out for Portland. And most importantly, Rivers has to play sorcerer and predict that change, preparing his team for it. It’s possible Los Angeles could play back some and force Lillard to beat Paul, and Jordan if he chooses to attack the paint, to get his points. Doing so gives the remaining three on-court players the chance to stick to their defenders.

Because Portland isn’t a bad shooting team, if not a great one. Al-Farouq Aminu ‘stole’ the show with his adventurous misses from range but he’s a 36 percent shooter from three this season on 4.3 attempts per game. McCollum will shoot better. Harkless will shoot better. Portland (33% in game 3) will likely shoot better.

Coaching cat and mouse, you can call it, and hopefully Rivers is one step ahead, avoiding any chance Portland has of tying this series up heading into back-to-back away games.

Next: 'This isn't even my final form'