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 /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
5 of 5
Next
Clippers
Apr 17, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) dunks against Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee (24) 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 /

5 – “This isn’t even my final form”

If you’re a Dragon Ball Z fan, you know exactly where that line comes from. For those who don’t, villain Frieza said it to the Z Fighters when the hero group felt they were on the verge of defeating Frieza — braggadocios and memorable but it’s simple: what you’re seeing at the moment isn’t me at my best, so beware.

That was Blake Griffin tonight.

Still fighting his way back to 100 percent, Griffin looked good. Great even given the circumstances. An eye trained to all things Griffin, I could particularly notice where Griffin is still lacking. His effort in spots seemed calculated instead of spontaneous and destructive — this is me nitpicking — but even then, Griffin was still able to dominate with ease, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and three inviting posters on Mason Plumlee.

More from Clipperholics

If you’re Portland you’ve no choice but to worry. If you stood as a believer Portland could steal this series from Los Angeles and make them the laughing-stock of all teams considered contenders, a qualifier in that belief had to be thinking Griffin wasn’t going to be himself for the whole series.

Because Portland has no one to defend Blake, meaning injury would have to be the only thing that holds him back, and if Jordan is dominating defensively, Chris Paul is winning the matchup against Damian Lillard, J.J. Redick replicated Courtney Lee-in-2015, all while Griffin dunks and posts is way to being a (or maybe the?) top power forward again, Portland has no chance.

***

Like Redick, Griffin being better is all important for the look-ahead: Golden State. In fact, everything done in this series will be compared to how things will be done against Golden State. Doc’s rotations. Jordan’s ability to defend on the switch. How the Clippers attack the dominant scoring point guard (Curry). Blake’s performance. Etc.

Next: Blake Griffin went signature Griffin in Game 1

They’re Cleveland in a sense, in that everything measures up for that one matchup. Unfortunately the Clippers couldn’t avoid facing Golden State until the conference finals as opposed to the semis but it’s the truth, and a summer of sanity (or insanity) will ride on it.