5 Things We Learned From the Clippers and Rockets Series
*Photo via USA Today
The smoke has cleared from the Los Angeles Clippers 3-1 series leading collapse to the Houston Rockets. As the Rockets prepare for the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, let’s see what we’ve learned from their previous series.
1.The Clippers lack offensive production outside their key 5 players of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J Reddick and Jamal Crawford. Besides these five players, no one averaged more than 8.4 points per game and that was Austin Rivers. As well Crawford may have averaged double digit points per game off the bench. But he shot a horrible 36 percent from the field and just 24 percent from behind the Arc.
2.On a positive note against the toughness of Dwight Howard, Terrance Jones and Josh Smith. Blake Griffin had another stellar playoff series. Griffin averaged 26.9 points per game with 12.3 rebounds per game and shot 55.8 percent from the field. If the Clippers can take a positive from this series, it’s for sure that Griffin is becoming a tougher more complete package player.
3.The Rockets can win even if MVP runner-up James Harden struggles. In game six and seven, pinnacle win or go home games for the Rockets. Harden only shot 25 percent in game six, while sitting out the whole fourth quarter as the Rockets came back from 19 points down; as well as in game seven where he shot just 35 percent from the field. Now, yes, he had 31 points in game seven and eight assists however, he shot poorly and committed seven turnovers in a double digit Rocket victory. Scary for opponents when Harden isn’t on his game and the Rockets are winning.
4.You may disagree with this takeaway but it’s by the numbers. Josh Smith is the X-factor for the Houston Rockets. He gives the Rockets a spark along with Corey Brewer. This postseason in games where Josh Smith shoots over 45 percent they are six and one, while when he shoots under 45 percent they are just two and three. The Rockets depend heavily on his production.
5.Lastly, we learned the Rockets can play decent defense when it is needed. During the regular season the Rockets gave up around 103 points per game, while in the postseason, they have been allowing 111 points per game. In Game 5 they were able to hold the Clippers to just 103 points, on 42 percent shooting and just 26 percent from three. Now in game 6 in LA, the Rockets again held the Clippers to 42 percent from the field, and 23 percent from three. Along with this being down by 19 late in the game they held the Clippers to just 15 points in the fourth quarter, and 107 points for the game. There was a late garbage time 3 by Chris Paul to slightly inflate the Clippers stats. In game seven the Rockets defense again showed up, forcing 18 turnovers and holding the Clippers to 25 percent from three and to just 100 total points.