Scouting the Clippers: Blake Griffin’s emerging post game

By Quixem Ramirez

May 19, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) guards Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) during the first half of game three of the Western Conference semi finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

Blake Griffin post-ups. On Griffin’s first six post-up possessions, he converted on each shot with many shots that varied from downright ridiculous to pretty difficult. The Spurs defenders are generally pretty adept at defending the post because of their sound fundamentals and not necessarily because of exorbitant block totals. Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter didn’t necessarily fail in their post defense against Griffin — it was more Griffin simply playing out of his mind — but it was enough for Gregg Popovich to tinker with a couple of hard double-teams to disrupt Griffin.

While Chris Paul has been effectively neutralized by the emerging Spurs defense, Griffin has exposed San Antonio’s interior defense (An aside: Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan rank among the top 100 defenders in post-up points per possessions so this might be an anomaly). In the regular season, Griffin scored 0.83 PPP on post-ups. That number has risen to 0.91 PPP this series, small sample size aside. Whether Pop decides to send hard doubles to disrupt him early or leaves him on an island will be an interesting development. Many of Griffin’s shots were highly improbable and Pop may be content with allowing these low percentage shots.

Kawhi Leonard. Leonard’s Game 3 performance is one of those that should spur a ton of confidence in his play and give Pop more incentive to play the 20-year-old rookie despite, you know, that he’s a rookie. Prior to this year Pop was notoriously apathetic towards rookies. At the very least. If anything, he made the life of rookies miserable although George Hill and Gary Neal are recent notable success stories in the Spurs rigorous system as rookies. Leonard finished Game 3 with 14 points and nine rebounds. His PPP for the game was 1.75 and he was even asked to defend Griffin on occasion. Given the Spurs mechanical efficiency, Leonard’s ability to improvise off cuts is something that gives the Spurs more options to defend.

Minutes played. Leonard, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all logged a ton of minutes last night. It’s a quick turnover and the Clippers were able to find some success offensively for the first time all series. The lack of rest took it’s toll early on in Game 3 and, hopefully, that will not be the case for Game 4.

Final verdict. Spurs by 11. I thought the only possible Clipper win was yesterday and they blew that in grand fashion. I’m a little worried about the amount of energy that the Spurs spent in their pursuit of a commanding 3-0 lead but not enough to pick the Clippers.