The Los Angeles Clippers are quickly gaining ground in the Western Conference playoff race, and the news and rumors are picking up.
Check out the latest buzz below.
Paul, Griffin Pick-and-Roll Dominating NBA
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have been enormously successful with their pick-and-roll game, leading one writer to say it’s “dominated the NBA.”
“The Clippers’ pick-and-roll featuring Griffin, Paul, and a steady dose of DeAndre Jordan has become one of the most unguardable plays in the NBA,” wrote Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report.
Paul and Griffin averaged 1.11 team points per possession on pick-and-rolls, ranking fifth in the league, and Paul was just as productive with Jordan.
“The pick-and-roll is such a dynamic play that it changes every possession, which direction you go, and it’s the toughest thing to defend,” Paul said. “I’ve made a living off the pick-and-roll.”
Opponents know it’s a move they have to watch out for.
“When you’ve got a guy like Chris Paul that’s a great scorer and he passes the ball so well, and they’ve got shooters surrounding him, it makes it hard to control the ball,” Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said.
“Blake is going to go get [the ball] over everybody else. And Blake is getting a lot better at the pick-and-pop, so they can get to any option in the pick-and-roll. When you can get to every option and it’s effective, that makes it that much harder to guard.”
Paul’s style has included adding the “cross-back” maneuver, where the point guard curls tight around the pick, putting his point guard defender on his back, and dribbles to the other side of the free-throw line with the big man defender also trailing him. Paul can then either take a jumper, or throw an alley-oop to the rolling big man. But this is far from the only move off the pick-and-roll that Paul has.
“Chris can pick things up and calls audibles. It’s like Peyton Manning with Denver,” an Eastern Conference scout said. “Chris is also like a kung fu player on the basketball court. He’s very physical, and he has a chip on his shoulder. [John] Stockton was the same way. That’s why teams physically try to pound the hell out of him, sometimes with a bigger defender.”
Redick’s Quick Start Key to Wins
J.J. Redick wasn’t playing well earlier this season, but he has picked his game up since then and is a big factor in the Clips turnaround.
The team is 7-1 when Redick scores at least 14 points. In those games, he is averaging 6.8 points in the first quarter while shooting at a high 51.4 percentage (47.4 percent for 3-pointers).
He had nine points before five minutes had elapsed against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and finished the first quarter with 13 and the game with 23.
“As a shooter, you want to see your first couple of shots go in,” Redick told the Los Angeles Times. “I just feel like it gives me confidence.”
Coach Doc Rivers said getting Redick involved in the offense early has been a priority.
“We’ve tried to do it, he just wasn’t making shots,” Rivers said. “Finally it’s starting to go in for him.”
Paul said his teammates know Redick knows what he’s doing.
“We just get him the ball and get out of his way, especially when he gets in there making fake passes and reverse layups,” he said.