THREE THINGS THE CLIPPERS SAY THEY MUST DO TO WIN SERIES

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Doc Rivers addressed the media prior to the Clippers’ first practice leading up to Saturday’s postseason opener. The trio was asked precisely what the Clippers need to do in order to have success in their opening round series against the Golden State Warriors. Here are the three things that stood out most:

1. Rebound the basketball. Rivers said rebounding will be the biggest key. In all four games the team that owned the rebounding edge won the game, including the Clippers outrebounding the Warriors 49-36 at Staples Center in their win on Mar. 12.

“We have to be a great rebounding team,” Rivers said. “In the two games that we won we outrebounded them and the two we lost, they outrebounded us. So, I think this series in that way is really close. We split. When you look at each game, except for the one where we got scheduled, they’ve been close games and at some point somebody broke through.”

Golden State was the fifth best rebounding team in the NBA in the regular season (45.3 per game), while the Clippers were 14th (43.0). The Warriors went 36-13 overall when they grabbed more boards than their opponent compared to the Clippers earning a record of 31-7 in such games.

2. De-fense, De-fense. The Warriors have a reputation as a high-powered offensive team because of the scoring threats of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The duo led Golden State to the fourth best 3-pointing percentage in the league this season (38.0 percent) and helped them to a 41-13 record when they top 100 points.

Because of how quickly the Warriors can score, Griffin said the Clippers must continue their improved defensive play. Since Feb. 23, when they started an 11-game winning streak and closed the season winning 20 of their final 25 games, the Clippers owned the fourth most efficient defense in the league, holding opponent to 101.8 points per 100 possessions.  

“We have to be really good defensively,” Griffin said. “They can score the ball. That’s what they do best and they’re a good team. So, we have to defend and we have to rebound.”

3. Be yourself. All season the Clippers have emphasized sticking to basic principles and tenants that make them successful instead of overhauling their game plan to cater to specific opponent. Even in the Playoffs, Paul says the Clippers have to take that same approach.

“Like we’ve said all season long, it’s about us,” Paul said. “It’s not about them. We have to play our game and do what we’re supposed to do and we’ll be just fine. We have to realize that each game takes on its own personality. It’s one win at a time.”