Clippers fall behind 3-1 to Golden State: Game 4 Analysis

During the Clippers’ first three playoff games against Golden State, feisty 6-foot-1 guard Patrick Beverley was tasked with attempting to stop 6-foot-9 scoring machine Kevin Durant. Durant averaged 27.3 points in those three games and the Clippers entered Easter Sunday’s Game 4 trailing the series 2-1.

In response, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers switched Beverley onto 6-foot-7 forward Draymond Green. The good news is Beverley limited Green to 4-of-11 shooting. The bad news is, Green posted a near triple-double, Klay Thompson and Durant both torched the Clippers and Golden State secured a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 113-105 win.

Golden State Warriors
Jerome Robinson of the Los Angeles Clippers goes up for two of his seven points against the Golden State Warriors on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

The Clippers led by five with just under four minutes left in the third quarter, but fell victim to a 23-10 Warriors scoring run. In response to what happened, Beverley’s answer was simple.

“They made shots.”

To quote the great Ralph Lawler, “Oh me, Oh my,” Beverley was right. Thompson scored 17 points in the first quarter on 70 percent shooting and didn’t cool off, finishing with 32 points. He converted 6-of-9 3-pointers in 40 minutes and did all of it in 20 shots.

The Warriors practiced at 9 a.m. Saturday morning to prepare for Game 4, and Thompson credited his hot shooting to having the rest of the day free.

“I told Jonas [Jerebko] yesterday, we went to the beach, played some volleyball,” he said. “I’m like, ‘yo I’m just going to go jump in the ocean. I know it will reset my mind,’ and it worked.”

Don’t plan on seeing Thompson swimming in Northern California, however. Sunday’s water temperature in Oakland registered at 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I don’t know if I’m going to jump up north because it’s freezing, but something I’ll definitely contemplate if I don’t shoot the ball that well the rest of the year, but hopefully that doesn’t happen,” he said.

For the Clippers, rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showed out after an abysmal game 3 performance. His 25 points were the most ever by a Clippers rookie in a playoff game, and he did so on 9-of-15 shooting.

Beverley said of Gilgeous-Alexander’s impressive performance, “I mean, words can’t really describe [it] because I see the work every day. I seen the work since training camp. Before he even stepped into training camp I watched film of him with best friends, [and said] ‘Hey, man, this kid is going to be special.’”

Gilgeous-Alexander played aggressively in the Clippers’ 17-point Game 1 loss, scoring 18 points, but disappeared in Game 2.

Rivers said of his play, “You know, they’re playing off of him, and instead of just standing there and being a spot-up shooter, he actually decided to make plays tonight.”  

The Clippers’ other two first-year role players, Landry Shamet and Jerome Robinson, provided much-needed offense off the bench. Shamet scored 9 points at a 50 percent clip from the field.

In his first meaningful playoff action, Robinson played 11 minutes and posted seven points on 2-of-3 shooting.

Robinson said of staying ready, “It’s huge going in, it’s hard to say that because it might never come, or it might just come like it did today. I think that just having that mindset that I have kind of had all year and keep doing that throughout.”

The Clippers played with much more intensity and energy than in Game 3 but allowed two of Golden State’s stars to dominate. In addition to Thompson’s hot shooting, Durant poured in 33 points. Shamet did a masterful job pressuring Stephen Curry, holding him to 3-of-14 shooting, but Curry found other ways to impact the game. He grabbed 10 boards, dished out seven assists and snatched three steals.

Off the Golden State bench, Andre Iguodala scored 10 points and was a +13. First-year forward Alfonzo McKinnie also provided a spark, grabbing two offensive rebounds and scoring two buckets in 13 minutes.

“Oh, man, his ability to rebound at the two guard spot is huge for us,” Thompson said of McKinnie. “He creates so many extra possessions. He made a huge floater tonight, some big, big put-backs, and what a season he’s had.”

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry dribbling the ball during NBA playoff action between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Outside of the Warriors’ star power taking center stage in Game 4, multiple Clippers didn’t show up when the team needed them to. Danilo Gallinari brought his Game 3 struggles to Sunday’s matinee, shooting 5-of-20 from the floor. He did score 16 points, but couldn’t ever gain a rhythm. High-octane scorer Lou Williams made 20 percent of his shots, scored 12 points and was a -18.

Williams faced pressure and traps all 48 minutes but didn’t score through them as he typically would. Ivica Zubac, who started the series’ first three games at center, was benched in place of JaMychal Green and didn’t see the floor. Green only attempted two shots in 22 minutes.

Biggest takeaways

After two straight games of essentially no Gallinari and inconsistent production from the rest of the roster, there’s no reason to believe the Clippers can beat Golden State at Wednesday’s Game 5 in Oracle. The Warriors have extra motivation to close this series out as soon as possible, considering the Houston Rockets’ 3-0 series lead over the Utah Jazz. The last thing Golden State wants is to deal with the Clippers in a potential Game 6 or Game 7, while the Rockets get extra time to recharge.

Should the Warriors prevail in Game 5 and end the Clippers’ season, Los Angeles will still be in great shape. With enough cap space to potentially sign two max-level free agents, the Clippers have overachieved all season and made themselves an even more attractive destination than they already were. Reaching the playoffs after trading Tobias Harris was more than enough to entice the likes of Kawhi Leonard to at least take a meeting with the Clippers, but their fight throughout this series has bettered their pitch even more so.

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