The LA Clippers need to impose their defensive will earlier.
A win is a win. On Monday night, the LA Clippers did, in fact, win, putting them up on the Denver Nuggets 2-1 in their second round series. It wasn’t a pretty game with LA not looking sharp defensively until late. Stop me if you have heard that before.
The LA Clippers cannot keep waiting to put their foot down defensively until late game, especially if they truly have championship aspirations.
Just watch the last few minutes and some of the third quarter. There are times where the Clippers’ defense looks downright amazing. I mean, their starting five features great defenders at every position. For some reason though, they just don’t have that intensity all game.
After Monday’s win, Paul George acknowledged that in his postgame interview with TNT, stating,
“That’s what we gotta hang our hat on. We pride on defense. We say this all year long. Defense is what we do. We were unhappy with how the first quarters have been going. We’ve been getting them off to great starts, especially game two. Tonight, we made an emphasis to come out and play some defense. We did that. We got stops.”
Well, yes and no. The Clippers did win the first quarter on Monday by a score of 33-32. I wouldn’t call that great but it’s better than what they did in game two. He’s right though that the team did get stops and that there was an emphasis on defense. It just seems that that emphasis mainly came in the second half.
Doc Rivers would agree with me. TNT also reported that he said that whoever played defense in the second half of game three would win. Doc’s assessment was correct.
But why is it always coming to this? Outside of game one this series (when the Nuggets were exhausted) and a few spurts versus Dallas, this team has not looked like they pride themselves on defense. In fact, they look like they are trying to do just enough to get by.
It has bitten them in the butt, as evidenced in game two. The Clippers won three out of the four quarters but were so outplayed in the first that it didn’t matter. They might be able to escape this series with that attitude but what happens in the Western Conference Finals or the NBA Finals?
If the Clippers really believe that they can hang their hat on the defensive end, we need to start seeing it consistently. No more lazy play where they allow back door cuts. No more not showing a hand on deep shots. Show us in game four just how good this defensive team can be.