Clippers Go To Utah With Key Strategy
April 20, 2017
The Clippers lost their first playoff game on their home court but they developed a new strategy for the rest of their first round series. Attack the basket. Attack, then attack some more. And some more. The reason was that Rudy Gobert, Utah’s outstanding young center, was out with knee injury suffered in the first 11 minutes of Game One. Without his abilty to block shots the Jazz would be vulnerable to an attacking opponent.
Doc Rivers, a coach who has an NBA championship on his resume, earned when he guided the Boston Celtics, has the playoff experience to quickly change the direction of a playoff series. The Clippers pay Rivers a lot for this ability. “We did what we needed to do,” said Rivers, recognizing that the Clippers outscored the Jazz in the paint by 22 points. As the series shifted to Utah for Game 3 Friday and Game 4 Sunday the question lingered on how long Gobert won’t be able to play. When the Jazz ruled him out of Game 2 they said he was improving and may be able to return sometime in this series. The Clippers ended the regular season as the hottest team in the NBA but momentum often changes once the playoffs begin. The Clippers will have Games 5 and 7, if necessary, on their Staples Center home court.
That’s not a guarantee they’ll win the series but it’s an advantage every team would like to have. The winner of this series will probably play Golden State, which has a 2-0 series lead over Portland. The Clippers have made the playoffs five straight years but they’ve never reached the Western Conference finals.