Put those brooms away, we’ve got ourselves a series. After Saturday night’s victory, the Blazers will get another shot tonight to even their matchup with the Clippers at two games a piece. Despite being ahead in the best of seven series, the pressure is now decidedly back on Los Angeles.
For just the fifth time all season long (!), the Blazers won game three while being held to less than 100 points. So yeah, Portland’s offense wasn’t back into full effect, but the shot making pendulum swung just far enough in their direction that they were able to pull out the win. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum regained their touch, Mason Plumlee went nuts, and Moe Harkless provided some huge buckets down the stretch.
So what will the Clippers do differently to try and answer? Eh, probably not much.
The Clippers had their open looks, they just didn’t hit them. JJ Redick went an uncharacteristic 2-10 from the field, Chris Paul went 2-7 from deep, and Blake Griffin was weirdly out of it all game. Even with their poor shooting, the Clippers took the lead late and had a chance to steal the game and the series. Redick missed a couple of wide open shots, Griffin took a terrible three-pointer, and an untimely turnover all but sealed it.
Los Angeles was right there despite monster games from Dame and CJ. And when those dudes weren’t scoring Plumlee was running the offense like a big Draymond Green, passing out of open space en route to nine assists. The Clippers didn’t appear to be blitzing the pick and roll quite as aggressively as they were in the first two games, or the Portland guards finally figured out ways to counter that attack more effortlessly. Either way, look for the Clippers to switch that coverage up a bit and try and get back to the “anybody but Dame and CJ can beat us” philosophy. Because so far, every Blazer is still shooting like a bunch of pumpkins from behind the arc.
Game Four will be a fun one. Both of these teams know each other well by this point. Things will almost certainly start to get chippy. The Moda Center faithful will be out in full force.
The national narrative after game three was more that the Clippers lost than the Blazers won. If Portland can get their offense rolling along again at full speed, that will shift. It’s time for Allen Crabbe, Gerald Henderson, and Al-Farouq Aminu to hit some threes. It’s time for these young upstarts to make some noise.