GAME 1 SHOOT-AROUND REPORT: CLIPPERS ON THE BREAK
The Clippers wrapped up their morning shoot-around at their Playa Vista Training Center with Game 1 of their opening round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies looming later Saturday.
Much has been said over the last two days about how familiar the teams are with one another, particularly as they near tipoff of their 14th meeting in the last calendar year.
The Grizzlies, the second best defensive team in the league based on defensive efficiency rating, want to grind the game to halt, while the Clippers want to play their own pace, according to Head Coach Vinny Del Negro.
But the Clippers have proven capable of playing both an up-tempo style as well as executing in half-court situations.
Matt Barnes, who is playing his 47th career-playoff game but first as a member of the Clippers, said it’s a matter of taking advantage of opportunities.
“You want to score any way you can; the more easy baskets the better,” Barnes said. “We know that they’re a tough defensive team, but we’re able to execute in the half court but we like to score in transition as well.”
The Clippers have used an average of 89.68 possessions against the Grizzlies in their four regular season meetings, down nearly four possessions from their season average. But while the pace theoretically slowed down, they still found a way to locate easy hoops, averaging 21 points off turnovers and 17.3 fast-break points in those games.
“I think that starts on the defensive end,” Barnes said. “I think that’s where we’ve won the last seven games [of the regular season] and really picked up our energy and effort, on the defensive end. That translates into either easy transition plays or quick hitters on offense.”
Barnes thrives running the floor, averaging 2.8 fast-break points per game which was 27% of his point output this season. Blake Griffin led all Clippers with 3.6 fast-break points per game in the regular season and Jamal Crawford was third (2.4).
“We like to get up and down the court,” Crawford said. “I think if we can get easy baskets and not let them set up in half court it’s going to be a lot higher success rate.”
And it could be a key to winning Game 1.
THEY SAID IT
On his mindset entering Game 1 of the postseason:
Matt Barnes: “It’s been a great year so far for us and the franchise, but we feel like we’re capable of winning a title. And that starts today.”
On taking a couple of months off of Twitter for the playoffs:
Jamal Crawford: “I’m off. I’m absolutely off until the playoffs are over for us. Just to stay focused and locked in. I did enough Q&As for the year. [Followers] will be okay. They can go back and look at my old Tweets if they need any answers for anything.”
On defending Grizzlies center Marc Gasol:
DeAndre Jordan: "It keeps you off balance, to be honest. They do a lot of high-low action and a lot of 5s aren't going to take that shot up there, they'll wait to pass it, if not they'll go to a screen and roll. But Marc, he can shoot it so you have to close out to him, you know, he has a number of moves in the post on the block so really you've got to just be ready for anything"
“I also have four guys behind me who can be there to dig, for strips, and things like that just in case our defense does break down. But we all take pride in individual defense, and I think that's going to be a big part of this series."