The Portland Trail Blazers needed their high-scoring backcourt to have a huge impact to take Game 1 at Staples Center. Unfortunately for Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers sent hard traps at Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum throughout Game 1, forcing the Blazers’ role players to beat them on offense. Lillard and McCollum both struggled shooting the ball, going a combined 10-28 from the field and made several avoidable mistakes throughout the game.
Lillard and McCollum managed to get the ball to their teammates, but the big men were unable to consistently score the ball at the rim and the perimeter shooting was shaky as well. The Clippers didn’t make perfect rotations against the Blazers, but they were aggressive and disruptive enough to make Portland’s players uncomfortable all night. Mason Plumlee shot 1-6 from the field and only managed to grab five rebounds. Al-Farouq Aminu has 10 points and 12 rebounds, but shot just 2-8 from beyond the arc and 3-12 from the field. The Blazers will need to get better production of their role players moving forward if they are to have any shot in this series.
The Clippers were favored coming in, but had some concerns of their own. Blake Griffin is still dealing with a quad injury, J.J. Redick recently suffered a heel injury and the team has been inconsistent at small forward all season. None of those issues mattered in Game 1 though.
Griffin looked explosive, logging 10 first quarter points. He also threw down some highlight worthy dunks throughout the game, showing that he still has some explosiveness left despite his lingering injury. Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan were excellent as well. Paul put up an impressive 28 points, 11 assists and six rebounds, while smothering Lillard on the other end all night. Jordan was a major factor on the boards and on defense, constantly protecting the rim and altering shots. Portland coach Terry Stotts went to the hack-a-Jordan strategy at different points of the game, but it never swung momentum in favor of the Blazers.
The Clippers’ biggest weakness at this point seems to be the fact that Doc Rivers is still using all-bench lineups at various points. When Paul, Griffin and Jordan are all sitting, the Blazers need to be thoroughly outplaying their opponents. That did not happen enough in Game 1 for Portland, especially against Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, who combined for 24 points on 11-22 shooting from the field.
Game 2 will be held on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
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