PRACTICE REPORT: CLIPPERS TALK GAME 4 ADJUSTMENTS
PLAYA VISTA – Prior to Saturday morning’s practice, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers discussed the mentality that his team must have in order to even their second round series with the Thunder at STAPLES Center on Sunday.
“We have to play harder, better, faster, smarter,” he said. “For us to keep going, we have to get that every possession urgency.”
Chris Paul echoed his coach’s sentiments, “We definitely have got to play with a sense of urgency… We understand that that it’s not over. It’s not time to hang our heads… We just need to get Game 4.”
Blake Griffin however, issued a caveat. “I think there’s a fine line in between being worried about every possession and still playing freely. I think that when you over-think sometimes and you’re scared to make a mistake, that’s when you do make a mistake. I think we just need to make the simple play and not try to do too much.”
The Clippers believe that if they can find that balance between urgency and desperation, and that if they can take easy looks away from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, that they can knot the series at two games apiece.
“When [the Thunder] have two guys as dynamic Russ and KD, you’ve got to try and limit as many easy baskets as possible,” Paul said. “You know they’re going to get the free throw line, they’re going to make tough shots; so, you’ve got to try and limit the easy ones.”
Westbrook and Durant tallied 59 points together Friday night, shooting a combined 21-for-38 (55 percent) from the field. As the game drew to a close, each made a clutch shot that would help the Thunder put the game out of the Clippers’ reach.
It is obvious that Westbrook and Durant are elite-level players and dangerous scoring threats, but the Clippers believe they can win by limiting the efficiency of Oklahoma City’s stars.
“Right now, they are way too efficient in the way they are scoring,” Rivers said. “You can play good defense on Durant, and he still may make the shot. You can live with that. If you do your job and they score, what else can you do?”
Limiting the Thunder offensively can create opportunity for the Clippers to force the Thunder to bend to their style. In three games this series, the Clippers have only managed to produce 37 fast break points.
Rivers said, “In this series so far, we really haven’t gotten in transition at all... They have taken that away from us because they’re scoring on us. We’ve got to do a better job of getting stops in a row so we can get some kind of offensive rhythm in transition.”