Clippers NBA Playoffs Game 1: Play hard, think harder
By ALYSHA TSUJI
College Contributor Network
I have a lot of faith in the Clippers, more than most. They were my childhood team, and I enjoy rooting for them simply because they're the underdogs as the second class citizens of L.A. However, I will admit that the night before Game 1 when I was out with friends, I may have struck up conversation with a random guy in which I said that the Clippers were "for sure" getting knocked out in the first round.
I'm fully convinced that Chris Paul overheard that conversation because he left everything out on the court against the Spurs last night -- 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Blake Griffin followed close behind, adding a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan swatted four blocks, holding down the key.
The devil, though, is in the details. As hard as the Clippers performed last night, it may be cause to their downfall. Their starting five played an average of 37 minutes. Chris Paul looked unstoppable, but he also looked exhausted. In the fourth, Paul and Griffin were often caught hunched over, hands on their knees, huffing and puffing.
Post-game, Griffin, with a strange mason jar of with what he said was a protein shake sitting beside him, assured the media that they will be able to sustain the pace. Unless that liquid is some magic formula, I beg to differ.
Blake Griffin trading in the postgame Red Bull for the Mason jar. pic.twitter.com/xsfQxTSmeE- Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 20, 2015
The Spurs are calculated, and while you could see the disappointment on their faces as they crumbled in Game 1, you could also sense that that they weren't the least bit panicked. That is what the Clippers should fear. This is a four game series with a max of six more games to battle through. Paul's thrashing through the key to slice apart the defense and Blake's coast-to-coast sprints with spin moves to layups are impossible to sustain. And once they slow down, it opens up the game to the Spurs gaining control.
In order to win the series -- or to advance any further than the second round, for that matter -- the Clippers need to settle into a strategy that involves speedy fast break dunks and slower halfcourt sets. The Clips can run full speed ahead and feel like they're winning, but eventually the Spurs will pull away the football. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, I'm just being realistic.I imagine facing the Spurs in the playoffs is like simultaneously playing chess and dancing the tango. If the Clippers have developed the mental and physical prowess to counter that, they've got a real shot at the Western Conference finals. If not, brace yourselves, Angelenos.
Like I said, I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just hoping for the best while expecting the worst. I've blindly stood behind the Clippers in the playoffs for the past three years and been sorrowfully crushed the past three years. Game 2 is Wednesday night. Rest up, Clippers, and don't let the defending champs' Game 1 lull fool you.
Alysha Tsuji is a senior Journalism major at Pepperdine University. Her passion lies in sports media, namely when it comes to covering the NBA. Follow her on Twitter: @AlyshaTsuji