LOS ANGELES. When the Los Angeles Clippers moved to heaven and earth last summer to acquire a pair of the league's most deadly forwards, the early glimpses of their terrible victory over the Boston Celtics over 107-104 were exactly what they represented.
At the beginning of the game, the Celtics decided to trap Paul George in the center of Ivica Tsubaka. And why not, considering George scored obscene 88 points in 73 minutes in his first three games as Clipper in the past week. When George delivered the pass to Zubaku, the Celtics guard Marcus Smart had to move away from Kawhi Leonard to pick up the big man. Zubak knocked the ball to Leonard, which leaked a 3-pointer.
Three possessions later, George and Leonard switched places. Again, the Celtics caught the ball in his hands – this time it was Leonard. Smart stopped between Zubak in outer space and George around the perimeter in the same place where Leonard had previously shot down 3 goals. At the moment of maximum opportunity, Leonard buttoned the ball between the trap for George on the weak side – and George repeated the earlier result from a long distance.
The week before Thanksgiving and the endless preseason, the Clippers finally ended when Leonard and George finally made their first teammates. Their inaugural work was not an ideal demonstration in symbiosis – sometimes it was a tiring blow – which was not a surprise for the two players who shared exactly one full-contact training together when they were in opposing teams. According to Second Spectrum tracking, Star Clippers on Wednesday held zero pick-and-roll or dribbling games.
“We need to work hard, you can see it,” said Clippers trainer Doc Rivers. “We tried to pass the ball to the guys instead of trying to score.”
If the Clippers turned out to be a team that is still getting to know each other, it is because they are. Nevertheless, the presence of the full composition in the composition created created an occasion for satisfaction, emphasized by the fierce return of the fourth quarter to the Staples Center.
For several weeks, Leonard and George were two ships passing in the training room. George missed the preseason and the first 11 games of the regular season, recovering after a couple of operations on his shoulder. On the eve of George’s first game as Clipper last Thursday in New Orleans, Leonard suffered a bruise in his left knee in Houston. Being healthy, everyone showed their individual brilliance – Leonard as a bully who can use brute force to create space for any shot, George as a universal wing that can win in almost any attacking ability.
Fully formed Clippers showed the greatest promise on the defensive, where they crushed what was the fourth NBA attack coming on Wednesday for most of the night. The Clippers list includes a platoon of long and agile defenders capable of defending several positions, playing in gaps, clicking on manipulators and covering the ground in the transition.
Most likely, the Clippers had both flexibility and confidence that Maurice Harkless was holding the Celtics point guard Kembu Walker in his hands, knowing that Patrick Beverly – their own miniature guard – could withstand the lanky Boston. wings, and that there was reliable help if necessary. Deciding to stop Walker, the Clippers threw traps at him. Clippers' rotation for these aggressive attacks was variable – again, not surprising for units that had not previously recorded minutes together – but Clippers are so athletic, so long and endowed with so many experienced veterans that they were able to perform damage control.
Lineups Clippers vs. Boston
|Leonard + George||+11||58%|
|Source: NBA Advanced Stats|
And when the Clippers came out with the final roster at the end of the Beverly, Leonard, George, Lou Williams and Montresl Harrell, they went against the actions of the Celtics. Boston led 86-76 with 6:15 left to play, but Clippers finished the last 11:15 of the game with a run of 31-18. With the exception of two minutes of futile time for situational defense, Rivers came up with this group to lead the attack.
With all the fanfare of Leonard and George, who made their debut in tandem with the opponent of the tent on national television, the Clippers staged a furious rally in the fourth quarter, which resembled their patchwork teams of recent seasons. In the attack, Leonard and George drew gravity to defend the Celtics, but it was Beverly and Williams who promoted the Clippers.
“I thought that he, literally, alone wished this game by his own efforts,” said Rivers about Beverly, who was the recipient of a rare game ball.
As the Clippers cling to leadership with two points, remaining in overtime for less than a minute, the Celtics trapped Williams in a trap with Harrell. This is one of the most dangerous pick and roll combinations in the league – the tandem that helped the Clippers team win an incredible 48 games last season. Therefore, when Williams handed the ball to Harrell, Jason Tatum had to leave Beverly in the weak side corner to mark Harrell in outer space. This left Harrell with an open pocket in the right corner, where he quickly sent the ball towards Beverly.
Here they are, the three remaining running away from the fateful trade of Chris Paul in 2017, connecting a sequence that helped the passing team Clippers create an identity that attracted a couple of top-line superstars. Leonard and George were headlined Wednesday and represent Clippers' best hopes for their first title. However like beverly emptied 3 pointer to seal victoryIt was the spirit of the retraining that night endured.