REDICK AND CRAWFORD PROVE RIVERS’ OFFSEASON VISION CORRECT
Jamal Crawford pulled J.J. Redick aside at one point during the Clippers’ 126-121 Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday and told him he didn’t care who was on the court.
“I’ve been telling J.J. the whole time you’re going to win games for us,” Crawford said. “We didn’t bring you here to help us win games in the regular season. You’re going to come up big for us.”
Redick, who scored 20 points on Saturday, knocked down the second to last field goal of the game for the Clippers, an 18-foot fade away from the left wing with 35.9 seconds to go that helped stave off a furious final rally by the Warriors.
It capped off a game in which Redick and Crawford shared a bulk of the scoring load; Crawford scoring 13 of his 22 points in the second quarter and Redick putting in half of his points in the third. They joined Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as two of four Clippers who scored at least 20 points on the night.
It was precisely what Doc Rivers envisioned when he dealt budding star Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for Redick and Jared Dudley in a three-team trade this summer. He wanted to add 48 minutes of offense from the shooting guard position.
“That was the vision this summer,” Rivers said. “Me, [Vice President of Basketball Operations] Gary Sacks and [President] Andy Roeser were sitting around and they asked me what we needed, and I said shooting. You need shooting down the stretch and I actually said, in a Game 7, shooting shows up. Every time I‘ve lost a series, when I sit in my office after a game, I always reach down and say we didn‘t have enough shooting. [Saturday] we had enough shooting. Guys were making shots, and against a team like Golden State, you needed that shooting.”‖
Redick made three 3-pointers, giving him 17 in the postseason so far. Crawford has 16 3-pointers and after struggling through a nagging calf injury re-emerged in the past four games as the league’s premier Sixth Man, an award he is likely to win for the second time in his career sometime in the next few weeks. He scored at least 19 points in each of the last four games of the series against the Warriors, including taking over in stretches of Game 7.
Crawford was 7-for-12 from the field, converted his 43rd career 4-point play, and in the fourth knocked down runners, flashed his handles to free himself and get to the rim and grabbed a defensive rebound that led to a Redick alley-oop to Griffin that forced a Warriors timeout and spurred an already bustling Staples Center crowd.
The way Redick and Crawford played off one another was similar to one sprinter passing a baton to another in a relay or two instrumentalists, Crawford the frenetic drummer and Redick the steady-handed guitarist.
“We have confidence in each other and play off each other really well and I think all of our guys do,” Crawford said. “We play two different styles, but both are effective. And I think it gives teams different looks.”
There were times this season when it seemed like that contrasting style between Redick and Crawford would never come to fruition. Redick, who averaged a career-high 15.2 points per game, missed all of December with a fractured hand. Crawford missed all most of March with a strained left calf. And Redick missed all but two games in February with a bulging disc in his lower back.
Still, there were glimpses of how they would fit together and as interchangeable pieces in January. That time was spent with Paul sidelined, and Crawford splitting time as the reserve point guard and shooting guard, but for the better part of a month the Clippers rarely went a night without at least Redick or Crawford on a roll.
But nothing, even a stellar dual performance in Toronto on Jan. 25, could match Saturday night when in their biggest game to date, Crawford and Redick were in perfect sync no matter who was on the court.