Can Griffin, Clippers keep subduing Blazers?
The Clippers accomplished a great many things in Sunday’s first-round opener vs. the Trail Blazers. Perhaps the most important feat of all: letting Blake Griffin get his groove back.
Los Angeles’ power forward, who was limited to 35 games during the regular season, erupted for 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in that 115-95 rout. He’ll strive for another stellar all-around effort tonight, when the Clips host Portland at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI love Doc Rivers’ group in this spot. The No. 4 seed in the Western Conference is listed as a 7.5-point favorite at Staples Center, with the over/under total coming in at 209.5 points.
To prevent a 0-2 series deficit heading back to the Pacific Northwest, the Blazers must suddenly devise a plan to stop Griffin. For the first time since the All-Star returned to the lineup, the Clippers actually ran offensive sets through him. Griffin responded in kind, forming a formidable low-past tandem with DeAndre Jordan.
As usual, Chris Paul (28 points, 11 assists and six boards) also set the tone at point. Portland’s normally sterling backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum simply had no answer for the perennial Olympian, who seemed to penetrate with ease. Los Angeles’ numerous low-degree-of-difficulty field-goal attempts resulted in a percentage of 53.8 from the floor. The Trail Blazers forced just 10 turnovers, too.
Obviously, Terry Stotts’ troops need to fortify themselves in every aspect. A superior shooting performance, though, is at the very top of the list. Portland can’t go 10 of 30 from beyond the arc again. And it certainly can’t let Griffin dictate the tempo for the second straight contest.
WEDNESDAY NBA FREE PICK: TRAIL BLAZERS +7.5