Moving on to games 3 in the NBA playoffs with three series tied at 1-1: The Los Angeles Clippers taking their momentum to play in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, the Indiana Pacers doing the same while travelling to play the Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies, coming off a big win, hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder.
No two games have been more different than the first couple in the Western Coast series between the Clippers and the Warriors. A surprising and slightly controversial four point win for the Warriors in the opener, followed by the Clippers setting some franchise records en route to a 40-point win. From the comments we’re getting in the build up, it seems the Warriors might be relying a bit too much on what their crowd is going to give them.
The Warriors are 2-0 against the Clippers this season at home but are 27-14 overall with losses to Denver (twice), Cleveland, Minnesota, New York, Washington and Charlotte. The one thing the two games taught us is that if both teams play their “own” game, the Clippers will come out ahead. The Warriors need others, not Stephen Curry to step up, which means big nights from Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson, slowing down the game and disrupting as much as possible the Clippers’ attempts to avoid half court offense.
In Memphis, the Grizzlies will try to do what they did rather well in the second game, which is making things difficult for Kevin Durant. They aren’t going to stop him, but with Tony Allen guarding him getting points from anywhere, including the free throw line, is quite the tasking chore. By taking the sting out of Durant, they move the ball more to Russell Westbrook, who is more prone to make mental mistakes late in games.
The Thunder need to find an answer to Zach Randolph pummeling his way through the paint or Mike Conley picking apart their defense in game 2. The more talented team usually isn’t the one that needs to worry about adjustments, but both the loss and the win were in close games (the result is slightly lying in game 1), meaning that talent and the explosive ability of Durant isn’t going to be enough, and getting the ball to Reggie Jackson (disappointing so far) among others will give them a chance to damage and hurt the Grizzlies D.
In Atlanta, it might be more of a mental battle than what basketball both teams, the Pacers and the Hawks, have hiding from each other. The Pacers had the energy, focus and finally the defense to get their way in game 2, while the Hawks have more or less just on shtick to make them look superior. They have some adjustments they can do but this is up to Indiana, and especially Paul George and George Hill to make the difference.
Why Hill? Because just like Hibbert, the point guard has gone into some sort of slumber over the last couple of months. Unlike Hibbert, he woke up in the previous game, scoring 15 points. The biggest problem for the Pacers that was at least visible (not talking about the behind the scenes fighting and such) was the slow ball movement, making them turnover prone, getting bad shots and suspect to transition offense. Hill, with energy and purpose makes all the difference in the world.