Friday, May 19, 2006

Thursday Recap (May 18)

SUNS/CLIPS (Game 6): Clippers 118-Suns 106

- The game started with its usual helter-skelter pace where offense came easy and led to a combined 63 points in the 1st quarter. The Clippers just kept the scoring barrage going to the final buzzer while the Suns were somewhat off with their marksmanship.

- The Clips basically got what ever they wanted offensively all game. No surprise that the Clips' plan was to attack below the free throw line and the Suns put up little resistance. Nothing new for the Suns, but this was probably their worst defensive effort of the playoffs--I know, I know, sometimes it's hard to choose which one is the worst with the Suns (The Clips shot a ridiculous 61.5%). Brand put up another dominant performance down low with 30 pts. (14/21) & 12 rebs. But maybe even more unstoppable for the Clips was Corey Maggette. He just decided early that he was going to explode to the basket at every opportunity. Suns' defenders were bouncing off Maggette when he flew thru the paint, in turn leading to 9/9 from the free throw line. Corey ended with 25 pts on 7/8 shooting and he continued to clean the defensive glass with 8 rebs. The Clips' offense also got a pleasant surprise from an unlikely source--Quinton Ross. Ross, strictly on the floor for his def., was given open looks from the Suns, and he was buring shots--18 pts. on 9/14. Ross also took Nash to school in the post a couple times, which combined with his excellent defense on Nash all game earned him the MVP of Game 6. Although, it seems that there is no fault to be found at all with the Clips' offensive performance, there was one sorepoint: 19 turnovers. Turnovers have been a bit of a recurring problem for the Clips' during the playoffs (the only reason they lost Game 3 vs. Denver was TOs), and it could come to haunt them in Game 7. Sammy was the biggest perpetrator of not taking care of the ball by just making some boneheaded passes in the 2nd half and he just had an overall shaky game. This is two games in a row that Cassell's decision making has been crummy--Sam & the Clips can't afford these careless mistakes in Phoenix.

- The Clippers' defense was pretty solid from the 2nd quarter to the finish. I thought they challenged shots in the paint as good as they have in this series--the Suns shot 43.7%, which is always a good sign. They did another good job on Nash and the high screens did not really hurt them. But I still don't like the way they let the Suns get up too many threes--13/31 is just too many & too good of a percentage. The Clippers are still making bad decisions when to double or sending too many guys when they don't need to. For example, when Tim Thomas or Diaw get switched over onto a smaller defender, let them go one-on-one in the post for most of the time. Live with Thomas or Diaw getting two points on the block as opposed to them kicking out for a three. Also understand who you can come off--you can come off Diaw a fair amount, and even though Marion was decent in Game 6 (4/7), most of the time you can creep off of him. Right now, you can't come off of Thomas, Bell, & Barbosa. I know Barbosa can blow by anyone, but I like I've been harping on--sacrifice some easy two-pointers to get the Suns off the 3-point line. The only reason the Suns were even as close as they were in this game was the 13 extra points per possession they got on their 3pt. makes. They were able to go on a 11-2 run at the end of the 3rd thanks in large part to 3pointers. Also, the Clippers gave the Suns more easy points by allowing 17 fast break points. The Clips have to cut down on these easy, extra points in Game 7.

- Hopefully, this Game 7 will be more entertaining then the disappointment in the Suns-Lakers series. If the Clippers can just make smart decisions overall--good shot selection & keep the turnovers low--they have a great shot at winning cause the Suns will let them shoot a good percentage. Also, the decision making on defense is just as important--they have to pick their spots judiciously when to help off of shooters and when not to. For the Suns, they just need to keep being who they are--jacking up as many threes as they can and hope their scrambling can cause turnovers by the Clips, which can lead to fast break points. Also, the Suns need to keep the Clips off the offensive boards--although the Suns got outrebounded by 20 in Game 6, they did not really get hurt too bad cause they actually finished with 2 more off. boards.