Playoff Assist: Point God and key matchups for Tuesday night
NBA writer Zach Harper breaks down players who are assisting their teams on their playoff run. He looks at the Clippers, Heat, and Blazers.
How insane was The Point God last night? It was a crossover christening against the entire Thunder defense. He became just the seventh player in the last 28 years to score 30 points on at least 85 percent from the field in a playoff game. It was the eighth time he’s scored 30 points or more in a playoff game and his teams are 6-2 when he does.
He started 8-of-8 from downtown and was just generally filthy the entire time. He created 55 points on offense in 28 minutes. It's hard to put into words just how dominant he was in Game 1. He just toyed with the Thunder's defense the entire time and made dominating a top 5 defense from the regular season look like he was in a shootaround or light scrimmage.
In the games without Dwyane Wade this season, the Nets and Heat played ugly, grind it out contests. With Wade on the court, the scoring greatly increased on both ends. But the defensive end is where he’ll need to make his mark. He doesn’t have to shut Joe Johnson down if he gets that assignment; he just has to be able to make him work in the post and not let him get the advantage to the point where the double team has to come.
Once the double comes down to the post against Brooklyn, they move the ball in a systematic way that’s like watching the board game Mouse Trap. Instead of cross-court passing, they go station to station as the trap falls down on the opposing defense. Johnson killed the Heat this season, shooting over 50 percent from the field and it will be up to Wade and company to slow that down.
3. Set your watches to Lillard Time once again
We should probably stop talking like this and just get used to it, but Portland Trail Blazers' point guard Damian Lillard shredded the San Antonio Spurs this year. He averaged 25.0 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. He struggled from the 3-point line at 30.4 percent, but we know he’s now in a Lillard Time mode that can’t be turned off from behind the arc.
You have to force him to drive and stay home on the shooters. If they beat you on dump down passes to Robin Lopez then so be it. You can’t let Lillard dictate the game because we can ask the Houston Rockets how that works out in the playoffs.
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