SportsCastr - Basketball & More - Ep 13: The Ever-Evolving LA Clippers w/ Lucas Hann of 213Hoops
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Basketball & More

NetsDaily's Matt Brooks sits down with experts from far & wide to talk all things NBA

Matt Brooks@MattBrooks

"Basketball & More" is a SportsCastr Featured Podcast with NetsDaily's Matt Brooks. Experts from across the globe sit down with Matt to talk all things NBA, from news and rumors to game breakdowns and analysis. Catch Matt's live stream with his co-hosts twice a week on SportsCastr and be part of the conversation.

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Matt catches up with Lucas Hann, editor-in-chief of 213Hoops, to discuss growth points for the LA Clippers throughout these playoffs, Montrezl Harrell's role going forward, possible adjustments for a possible Lakers matchup, the significance of Patrick Beverley and Ivica Zubac, plus more.

Follow Lucas on Twitter @LucasJHann

Can't forget our ELITE music credits: Daniel Hardee (@WeaponizedJoy)


Yeah, Alright.
As we welcome people in, I have my guest Lucas hand of 213 hoops.
The editor in chief.
How are things going? How are things doing over on that side of the world? A world that maybe a little bit of a different color than this one? Well, I mean, I guess it's a good time.
If there was ever a time for the Clippers and Nuggets to be playing, Ah, playoff Siris in the bubble in Orlando, it would be when it's snowing in Colorado and snowing ash in California, which the weird weather that both both teams local markets have been having in the last week or so.
So, yeah, it's been It has been weird out here, man.
As I glance out my window at the Orange, Yeah, it's, uh, I keep there was the video that went around Twitter today of like, the blade theme in San Francisco, and that was just weird.
I have family out there, and even so, like, I was getting pictures and it just doesn't really seem, really, but I mean, I've seen it from 200 different angles.
R E e.
It is some of the I mean, you know, California.
I grew up in California. You grew up in California.
It's there's fires, there's smoke, there's ashes.
You get used to it.
But like, this is, this has been different for me.
Yeah, than than anything that I can remember.
Well, let's not dwell on whether that's not E, although this I don't even know what this is beyond whether, um, I want to talk about the L.
A Clippers who are a team.
I'm not very original for this.
Thought I picked them to win the NBA Finals.
I've stuck with them throughout the entire season.
The ups, the downs, um, and I A.
I enjoy watching them.
They're like probably my favorite.
They've been my favorite team to watch in the playoffs because of the variants that you get with this team, and I think there's been some of that.
So let me ask this to start out.
Um, why does it feel like there are so many versions of the Clippers night tonight? And I know that sometimes it comes with hot shooting and stuff, but it really does, like sometimes it's like, Okay, this is an elite.
I mean what their number two in transition offense Right now, they played at a snail's pace in the season.
Um, I just want to know what what is? What do you think is has made that happen? Yeah.
I mean, I think there definitely are a lot of different versions of this Clippers team, and it's almost a kind of thing that, like, has to be because of multiple different reasons, Right, like you have to get split in different ways.
I think partially, it's just, you know, this is This is a bit, honestly, like It's a bit of a mercenary team, right? You look at a team like Denver that has had guys like Murray and Yokich together for four years, right? And they that's a lot of reps, a lot of games together, a lot of practices together, multiple training camps together.
This Clippers team hasn't had that.
They had one training camp right before the season started, where Paul George wasn't playing because he was coming off the shoulder surgery.
They go through a shortened season where again Paul George is missing a huge chunk of the beginning.
Kawhi Leonard is load managing and then you come into kind of this cove.
It bubble a second chance at a training camp in Orlando, and the Clippers had like half their rotation out during that camp for various reasons.
So I I just don't think this is a team like, at the end of the day, you can point in different things.
I think it really matters that they just have not had ah bunch of reps together.
But it's also a little bit more than that.
I'll point to one other quick thing.
The Clippers are a team that when they play their full 10 man rotation, the starting unit has five plus defenders like three all n b A Level guys in Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Quite Leonard, Marcus Morris.
We know it is a good, versatile defender, and if it's a zoo box is actually one of the best Rim protectors league.
You go to the second unit, those five guys on the second unit.
There's one average defender into Michael Green.
Everyone else is a below average defender, and so, as those lineups get swapped in and out, I think the personality of the team changes severely because you go from a team that's like man it doesn't matter.
We will switch everything we will trap.
Everything will recover.
You're not going to score on this five man unit all of a sudden, too.
Once, like three or four of those substitutes in the game At the same time, the Clippers can't defend anybody.
Wouldn't the movie to cut down? I mean, do you think that dog's gonna cut down the rotation next round? Assume it started.
It started.
So Reggie Jackson, Yeah, Reggie Jackson.
Reggie Jackson has been trimmed out, and I think another thing that he did just in this game for that was new is he played Patrick Beverley with the second unit and that that really helps.
Because not only is that second unit what the Clippers have been doing is they've been staggering either PG or CO I.
But so they play minutes sometimes where it's like, you know, Lou Williams, Landry Samet, Paul George, Michael Green, Montrezl Harrell.
That's not a great rebounding unit.
And putting Patrick Beverley in doesn't Onley help defensively on the second unit, but it helps them with their rebounding, which is big.
And just in that second, like first few minutes of the second quarter stretch in Game four.
Patrick Beverley, I think, got three big defensive rebounds.
And that's why the Clippers were able to play that second unit stretch even for pretty much like the first time in this postseason.
What do you So there's been What do you think defensively, like Has has been the best, has worked the best for the Clippers because they've thrown a lot out there.
They've they've done switching.
They've been last game.
They were like just doubling Yokich every time you like, felt like he touched the ball.
Especially along that, like baseline.
Um, you know, what do you think has worked the best with this specific group? Yeah, I think for this for this series against Denver, it's definitely been funneling the ball away from Murray and Yokich.
So the Clippers have had a ton of success against Jamal Murray in this series, and I know there's like some Jamal Murray slander out there on the Internet right now, but I I don't know.
I don't really know what Jamal Murray is supposed to do when you've got Paul George on him and Paul George is chasing him aggressively over the screens, not giving him any space to breathe on the back side and zoo boxes down there playing drop coverage, right? If he puts his head down and drives into zoo bots standing, waiting for him in the paint, he's gonna get his shot blocked and he can't really pull up because Paul George is on his back chasing on the screen.
So the Clippers air double covering him in a lot of actions we saw in the first two games of the series that was leaving Yokich open on those pop threes he was getting.
He had all day to shoot those pop three, because when you dropped robots that low, he's now playing, you know, 20 ft away from the three point line.
So the past goes out to Yokich on the pop.
That's a lot of ground for ah guy who's a little slow like zoo to cover.
Well, the Clippers, the adjustment that they made late in Game three and four is they stopped playing that match up straight two on two, and they brought help and they started forcing the ball to the weak side corner.
Whether that's Paul Millsap, Tory Craig, Jeremy Grant, Gary Harris and they said All right, we're gonna make these guys beat us.
We're gonna make one of these guys score, you know, 20 something points and they have it so that that's what's really working for the Clippers right now.
Is that a viable strategy? Because one of the things that I'm like I'm really looking at his age is like, what if I mean Anthony Davis on a terror right now, and I don't know what's gonna happen in that Siri's.
But if that is the matchup that the Clippers face, um, that will be interesting to see.
Like are are they going to use a similar style against Anthony Davis? Do you think? Do you think they try something different in that pick and pop situation? Yeah, it's interesting because I am a believer in making anti Davis shoe.
I think I think when you put a smaller guy on him, and that's not to say he's not gonna get his points from out there.
But I think if the Clippers go small and they try to play like Paul George or Kawhi Leonard on Anthony Davis when he bullies you inside is when he can really, really beat you.
If you put zoo bots on him and tells you bots go out there, make a good effort.
Don't let him get any offensive rebounds and let him shoot from 15 to 18 ft.
I think if you're the Clippers against a team that is as good as the Lakers are, you live with it.
But I also think the Lakers air probably another team where you can bring extra bodies to the LeBron a d action and say, like, Yeah, you know Markieff Morris, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo.
These guys have made shots for the Lakers and certainly, like Jeremy Graham is a 39% 3 point shooter for the Nuggets.
Not that he's bad, but it's over the course of the Siri's.
When you are like systematically funneling the other team's offense to these other players, are they going to be able to beat you beyond just making a spot up? Shots on? The answer with Jeremy Grant has been no, And frankly, if the option is like let LeBron and Anthony Davis do their thing in a two on two or let Markieff Morris do his thing, I'm gonna let Markieff Morris do his thing and live with it.
I agree.
Yeah, I think that one of the big things I mean, I don't know if I felt like Houston almost hasn't done that quite enough.
Like the Rondo thing is just kind of like one of those things where you like.
I just don't think that was in the scouting report.
I like.
How do you plan for that? But I'd be interested to see if they would, uh, if they would do that a little bit more.
Let me track a little bit back to this Denver syriza little bit.
What adjustments have they made from this round from the last round to this round? And and do you think that they've been particularly effective or not? Yeah, well, I think it's just, you know, every Siri's is totally different.
And one thing that the Clippers had to do in the first round was find a way to play soo bots because the Mavericks don't really have a traditional center and their starting lineup.
Like when Dwight Powell is healthy, you can say, Okay, we'll put some bats there and we'll be fine, right? But with Kristaps Porzingis, that's a really tricky matchup for a guy likes to.
And when Kristaps went out and then it's Maxie Cleber, that's like Maxie Clip was not even really a center.
So what? The Clippers in in that series, which was really interesting, is they actually put robots on Dorian Finney Smith.
And they said, This is how we keep zoo out of the pick and roll action with Luca and Kleeb, Uh, where you know he's gonna end up in trouble.
And then what we'll do is we'll just have zoo bots help really aggressively off Dorian Finney Smith.
So Zoo is kind of how I talked about he's playing against Jamal Murray and that drop coverage in the pick and roll.
He was essentially playing drop against Luka as the third guy defending that pick and roll with Cuba, and the Clippers were just scrambling out of it to get a hand up against Dorian Finney Smith on.
But it worked for them.
So yeah, I think Doc Rivers has been really.
He's found creative ways to get visas, robots, minutes in this playoffs, and that has been so huge for them because if it's a zoo box has been the Clippers most impactful player in this playoffs.
I mean, obviously he hasn't been their best player quiet runners on the team, right? But I think I mean, I think through 10 games he has been their second most important player. Onda.
When you look at who the alternatives are because, right, Paul, quite Leonard comes off Paul, George is there.
Marcus Morris is there.
Lou Williams comes in and scores.
There's no replacing Quiet later, but the Clippers have viable perimeter players.
The Clippers don't have another viable big man who could defend.
And so when zoo box comes off, the team falls apart.
The on off numbers are astounding for him and Harold at that center spot, so he has been fined Doc Rivers.
Finding those ways to kind of manipulate how the team plays defense to manipulate the rotations and keeps robots on the floor has been huge to Michael Green's been really good against the Lakers, and I If Doc I think the ball z thing to Dio and I don't know, he obviously can't do it, I don't I don't know I would he keep his minutes about the same as Trez is, or is that Is that feel too blasphemous? Stephen throw out there because I don't know if it's the Siris for trays.
I would play an eight man rotation.
I mean, I think once you get to like the conference finals, you have to play an eight man rotation because the Clippers have good depth.
They've had good depth all year.
It's been something that really carried them through load managing in the regular season.
But when you get to these later rounds of the playoffs and like your guy, number nine is going against the other teams.
Guy number seven, It doesn't matter how good your guy number nine is.
He's not as good as another really good teams guy number seven.
So I would play if you know if I was in charge.
Obviously not.
I would play eight guys, and trends would not be one of those.
Eight guys to Michael Green and Lou Williams would be the two main bench colleagues. Landry Sham.
It would would also be getting minutes.
But we go.
That's my confirmation bias right there.
That's all I needed.
I tell you, I think I think obviously Clippers fans love Montrezl Harrell a lot.
He won sixth man of the year.
He's a fan favorite, for obvious reasons because of how he plays.
But I don't know anyone in the Clippers press room who thinks he should be in the eight man rotation.
Hm, That's not just me confirmation bias, but that is, that is everyone that I talked to who covers the team feels the same.
Is it because of its just? He's not providing anything that they don't already have in a lot of ways, like just the instant offense. Almost.
I mean, I think what Trez does you have Thio.
He brings you very little on the court except for scoring within 3 ft.
He just happens to be literally not like not not hyperbole, hyperbole.
One of the most skilled inside finishers in the MBA, like one of the most interior skilled, interior scoring big men in the N.
Right now, uh, which you don't normally have a bench guy who has like an all MBA talent, and he does when it comes to interior scoring.
But where the Clippers lean on that during the regular season because Kawhi Leonard is sitting out every back to back and playing 32 minutes in the games.
He does play, and Paul George is, you know, resting liberally to get his shoulders back in full strength and playing 32 minutes a game in the games he does play.
That leaves a lot of like, kind of a vacuum in the production, and Montrezl Harrell steps in and fills that vacuum.
It also helps that in the regular season, defense doesn't matter as much, and it's a lot easier to score because other teams aren't playing.
It's hard on defense when you get to the playoffs, and in most of these close games, it's been like between CO Y and P G.
One of them's playing 42 minutes, and one of them is playing 40 minutes.
So in reality, the time that you have without those guys on the court is gone.
One of them is always playing in a close game for the Clippers, and Lou Williams is normally playing when one of them is on the bench.
So Trez is never better than the third option, and defensively he's so undersized he's such a poor rebounder.
He routinely puts himself out of position s so it's not just a size thing, but It's like a fundamentalist thing.
He has poor defensive fundamentals.
And so the Clippers just believed points with him on the court.
I mean, so far in the playoffs, if you just When you look at the on off numbers, the team has their best offensive rating.
When he's off the court of all players, their worst offensive rating.
What he's on the court of all players, their best defensive rating when he's off the court of all players, their worst defensive rating when he's on the court of all players.
So on both ends of the court, they are at their best in any combination without him and at his worst, with any combination with him that is ****ing like you, that is impressive.
You don't normally have a player on a team over like a 10 game playoff span who is so clearly demonstrably measurably the worst guy in the rotation.
Um, and it's been him, and it's been really, really rough because, you know, Doc Rivers trusts him.
You know that he wants tries to be a part of this team success, but their their success so far has been in spite of him.
Do you think he'll be cut.
Do you think it will happen? Will it happen from this rotation, or do you think it'll take a couple of gives? I don't think Doc Rivers.
I think Doc Rivers Trust stress and Doc is the kind of coach.
He's a relationships coach, right? And that's been huge for the Clippers.
I mean, the Clippers would not have done what they've done in the last seven years.
If Doc Rivers was not a relationships coach, Quiet, Leonard and Paul George wouldn't be in the locker room if it wasn't for Doc Rivers.
So that's this is not like a, you know, crazy anti doc thing.
But Doc trusts guys.
He trusts certain guys on the team.
And as things start to get tighter, he tends to lean Mawr on the guys he trusts.
And I think that Trez is a trust guy for him, so it wouldn't shock me if the Clippers start to get in trouble.
Let's say they go down to one against the Lakers if Doc starts leaning entrees a little more heavily instead of a little less because he's going.
This is a guy who I know.
I know what I'm going to get from him, right? I know he's going to score and we can figure out, you know, we can figure out defense with the rest of the lineup.
I know tries is going to score.
This is where zoo boxes inconsistencies as a young player, I think, have hurt his ability to earn docks trust because you put robots out there.
You don't know in 25 minutes if he's gonna get four points or 16 points, right and that that I think, has hurt Doc Rivers ability to trust him.
But I will say, Doc clearly trusts you bots right now because even in Game four, when the Nuggets cut the lead back down to 12 with a few minutes left, Doc Rivers brings a box back into the game for Harold.
I think Doc's not oblivious, right? He watches the same games we watch.
He definitely has access to the same numbers that we have access to.
He knows that the team is struggling with trades.
I think right now he's in a place where he he has enough trust trust in trees to say if I stick with this guy, it will pay off for our team down the road.
But I also think he's in a place right now, honestly, where he's sticking with him.
He's not playing him because he thinks he's playing well.
He's playing with him because he thinks it's important to stick with him.
And so that could be a sign that if things start getting really shaky for the Clippers in like a Western Conference final, Siri's against the Lakers, that doc could say, I can't afford to stick with him anymore.
So that's something that will be really interesting to see.
Yeah, I think that's one of the bigger.
I mean, that might be their biggest X factor.
Like I so much like it fluctuates with the Clippers, But I think that the rotations aspect of it is like the thing that really, really fascinates me.
Do you think somebody like who is another guy do that you think is on the edge a little bit in terms of, like maybe not playing as much or conversely, getting a big boost? Enroll? Yeah, well, so I think the guy that the other guy who's on the edges, probably Landry Sharman, I think like Landry's had he's actually had a really good playoffs at everything except shooting, which is funny, because that's the complete opposite of who he's supposed to be, right? He's supposed to be the sharpshooter who you know it is shaky and other places, but I think that it's funny.
Reggie Jackson is a guy who seemingly can't miss the three in this playoffs but literally cannot do anything else right when he's on the court on.
And actually, I'm really glad that Doc has gone with Landry over Reggie because I was worried that he would swing the other way.
But Dr Verses a guy, uh who, to put it kindly, is not fully transparent with the press.
Um, Doc, Doctor kind of guy who he'll get up there in his press conference and say something kind of just to say it to answer the question, smile.
The reporter crack a little joke, right? But he's not really telling you.
What do you think? Um, and he's he's not a guy who he doesn't air out his dirty laundry either, for sure, and I think it's been really notable and other folks on the Clippers beat, you know, I'm technically kind of on the Clippers beat I'm credential.
I've been living, you know, I've lived out of state, so I don't definitely don't go to every game even now that they're doing the zoom conferences like I call it sometimes.
But sometimes I'm kind of like I don't think there's gonna be really anything interesting coming out of, you know, but the people who are the people who I know who are who are literally there every time, getting the quotes, doing that kind of beat work, um, were really shocked in the first round when Doc was asked about Reggie Jackson and he was like, Yeah, you know, some nights to get good Reggie and some nights to get bad Reggie and when he's good Reggie, he's patient on offense, He's locked in on defense.
He's not making mistakes when he's bad.
He makes a lot of selfish mistakes on offense.
He doesn't play good defense.
He doesn't.
You know he's not locked into the scheme, and for him to say that about a player like that was shocking for those of us who have a lot of experience talking with Doc Rivers about the team because he doesn't criticize his players to the press like that.
And so, yeah, I think that Landry is pretty secure in terms of being ahead of Reggie at this point.
But as Patrick Beverley continues to get back into full health, he's still on a minutes restriction.
If Pat gets to full health and it's playing in like the mid to high thirties in the game and you've got, like partially depends on Pat's fouls as well because he's a really foul prone guy.
But I could totally see a game where, like Pat PG and Co.
I are all in the 38 Yeah, 38 to 42 minute range.
And then Lou Williams is playing all the other minutes, and Landry kind of get squeezed out of it.
So, yeah, he's another guy who could be on the edge for sure.
The way the way the Clippers utilized Landrieu Sham, It's really interesting to me.
They have them bring up the ball.
They I feel like there's like they don't quite run him around as many like weak side staggers, and I just I've never really understood that with him like and I have the one thing I will say with him, I've been really impressed with.
He's had some really nice defensive sequences.
I think there was one in Game four where he just stayed in front of Jamal Murray going for that like, patented like mid range.
Pull up like right near the nail.
Um, and he's also a nice passer, like really, really kind of interesting in a way where I'm like, Oh, that's a pretty good read for a guy I think of is just a catch and shoot guy.
But I don't know why they don't quite use him a little bit more in those traditional catch and shoot ways.
You think? Yeah, well, so they did last year, right? Last year.
They used him a lot off of those pin down screens, and he was better last year.
I think that he's been this year.
I think there's some other factories.
He's had some injuries and inconsistency with his role this year, but I think the kind of blunt answer to that question is Doc Rivers has built a team to put his best players in their best positions on Landry isn't necessarily the best fit.
And so the question is okay, if you're gonna if you're gonna put in at an offensive set, plays running floppy for Landry Shaman.
What does that do to co y Leonard and Paul George being able to get to their spots over the course of the game? The answer is, it takes them out of it.
And so I think you know it, za Blunt answer.
But it's, you know, we're not gonna We're not going to sacrifice 1% off comfort and optimization for PG and Kawai Thio build an offense that Landry Shaman is comfortable in, so that's where it's upto.
Landry is a guy who who's a role player, and I really like Landry Shaman to I hope he's with the Clippers for a long time.
I think he's really good.
He's going to be a role player for his career.
And so it is up to a guy like that to figure out.
How do I fit on a team with these stars rather than I think he was lucky last year that he came to a team that was already running sets that were kind of optimal for him, but now he's kind of in in a growing phase.
Still is a second year player in his career figuring out okay if I'm gonna If I'm gonna have a long and successful career in this league, I need to figure out how to play around guys who are better than me.
Um and that's you know, it takes time.
Yeah, that is that's an interesting idea.
I mean, always think there's so much give or take because, like even on those the thing like, I feel like if you had a couple more, just a couple more looks, you might sacrifice that, but you might get a couple more makes.
So, in a way, I mean, the other thing you have to think about is you have to spend time like I agree.
The Clippers, who get Landry Salmon a couple more, looks a game than they are without running a totally floppy based offense.
But you have to put that in.
And, like we talked about, this Clippers team has had one camp without PG.
They've had limited reps in the season with quiet load managing.
They don't practice a lot during the season.
Doc Rivers never practiced during the season.
Hey does rest days between games and they didn't have their rotation, including Landry shaman who was positive for co vid in the pre Orlando camp.
So then the question becomes okay if floppy isn't gonna be our main offense, because that doesn't make sense for the stars that we have.
When are we going to put in secondary secondary systems? And the answer is never they don't, you know, make the answer.
Is next training camp right? Because I think, frankly, some of the actions that we're talking about that would make sense for a guy like Landry could totally make sense for a guy like PG two, in addition to the other stuff that he does as an isolation guy and a pick and roll ball handler guy.
But the Clippers, just like there's there's a very finite material resource of time to put things in.
Uh, and I don't think the Clippers have put in everything that they want to put in.
I also think that's why they're inconsistent defensively sometimes because they cannot always switch coverages on the fly because they haven't had time to learn to play with each other and trust each other in a lot of different defensive looks.
Team like the Toronto Raptors, Nick Nurse has them running everything.
They'll do boxing one.
They'll do a 23 zone.
They'll do drop coverage.
They'll do trap coverage.
They'll play at the level.
They'll switch right.
They do everything they play strong side help.
They'll stay home on shooters.
They switch it up constantly.
That's something that takes not only the right personnel, not only the right coach, not only veterans who know how to play these schemes coming in, but it takes a lot of time in practice and in game reps off guys learning to trust each other because I can't bring that double based on on your kitchen. The post.
If I don't know that, you're going to cover my guy in the weak side corner, right? And so until we've built that trust, I'm always gonna be a little bit.
And that's something the Clippers just don't have, and they probably aren't gonna have this year.
There have to be without it.
I feel like they have taken a mini leap defensively, just like a very small one.
Just yesterday, they were really like scrambling in a way I hadn't personally seen.
I kind of want to attribute it Thio Pat Beverley being back.
I just felt like there was an engine.
Something's clicking.
You know, Paul George has been especially good. I mean as this.
Like she had a couple plays just as a secondary defender.
There was one.
I think this was Game three, where he where I think it was.
Jamal Murray got by CO y and then he just came over and rotate.
And I was like, All right, this is This is kind of like the thing we've been waiting for.
I was sitting there, all right, this is what we signed up for a little bit.
Um, do you think it's been something else that Beverly, or is it just the experience thing? The time getting together? Well, so Pat is the third most important player on this team, I think I said Zoo has been the team's second best player through 10 playoff games, but in a vacuum right, Pat is the third most important player behind Hawaiian PG because of what he brings to the team on both ends, which is even though people say, you know, he's not a true point guard, he's not a distributor, right.
He is the Clippers best point guard he is the He is the guy in the Clippers most capable off, bringing the ball up under control and getting them into something.
And so you can say, like, Well, Patrick Beverley doesn't create in the pick and roll as well as the guy like Reggie Jackson does.
But Reggie Jackson also over, penetrates and turns the ball over four times a game.
Patrick Beverley doesn't turn the ball over, so he is really important to what they do on both ends.
I think we can attribute the leap that they made to a couple of things.
First of all, my playoff philosophy is that a championship team is gonna play 25 games over two months in the playoffs.
One, no basketball team has ever had a 25 game, two month peak.
You have to get better as the playoffs go on and peak at the right time.
So the playoffs are full of these moments, where you're playing at a level and your opponent makes an adjustment and forces you to up your level.
I think the Dallas Mavericks did that in Game four.
They force the Clippers to be better in Game five of that first round serious than they were in Game four.
And they were.
And it once they got to that next level, the Mavs didn't have an answer.
Clippers won easily in Games five and six and close the Siri's.
I think the Denver Nuggets in Game three.
Even though the Clippers won that game, the Nuggets were the better team in Games two and three of this Siris.
In my opinion, they forced the Clippers to be better.
And I think in the fourth quarter of Game three and then now in Game four, the Clippers were better than they were through the first two and three quarters game of this series and the first round.
So the playoffs are full of these.
We need to find a way to be better moments.
We need to up our level. We need to up our intensity.
The Clippers had one of those moments heading into the fourth quarter of Game three of this series.
I think that's a big part of it and I think you can also attribute it.
I like I was talking about at the very beginning the Clippers, this starting unit, it's so good defensively and those backups air so bad? Just the simple act of saying, Hey, Reggie Jackson is out of the rotation and we're not gonna have times where four bench guys were playing together.
It's always gonna be two starters with three bench guys, at least those that balances the defensive line ups.
It keeps like that intensity at a much better level.
I think it stops the Nuggets from getting Mo Mentum.
Where this this killed the Clippers in the Maverick Siri's, especially Seth Curry gets the momentum playing against Reggie Jackson.
And then Paul George comes in and Seth Curry is already red.
Hot, right? More balanced lineups.
Stop the opponent opposing team from getting hot.
Keep the intensity at a more consistent level throughout the game.
So, yeah, I think it's I think it's a combination of things, and I think Patrick Beverley is a big part of it because he's the guy who's now playing with the second unit and keeping that intensity level up for them.
Yeah, and he just there's something about I wasn't sure which of him and trees would be kind of a fire starter for them, and I feel like that question's been answered pretty well.
It kind of almost sounds like you're saying that it was it actually a really good thing, that they've been tested a little bit by two teams that are really good in rounds one and two, like just really good there.
I they both are just really strong teams that I like a lot going forward.
I don't think the Milwaukee Bucks or worst teams in the Miami Heat, I think that the Milwaukee Bucks weren't playing as well when they got to.
That round is the Miami Heat, where I think the Milwaukee Bucks came into the bubble with the one seed all but clinched.
Not mathematically, but they weren't gonna lose it.
And they came into the first round playing a team that they are easily 20 points better, then on an average night.
And so the Milwaukee Bucks like when they got to Game one against the Miami Heat and at whatever point in that game, they went thio the huddle and had like a oh, crap moment, right? Oh, man, we're here like this is happening right now.
Like where this is the second round of playoffs.
Um, it was too late and I think you need incremental like an incremental intensity ramp up.
And the Milwaukee Bucks did not get that, Um, and it's something that, you know, frankly, I think the Miami Heat did internally, which is one of the most impressive things about this run from them for me, is that they I think it's really easy when you're the Clippers and it's the end of the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets.
A good team, but a team that you are better than and you say, Hey, man, we're down eight to a team that that were better than and they're about to go up to one in the Siri's.
We gotta get this.
We gotta pick this up.
I think it's a lot harder when you're the Miami Heat and Europe to, oh against the top seed in the East to say we gotta bring it in Game three and go up 30 right, That is a difficult thing.
It is hard to play to match the intensity level of a team that is more desperate than you.
And the Miami Heat did that in that series, which is really impressive.
But yeah, I mean the the original question.
I think it is so important for the Clippers that they had that we need to be better moment in Game four against the Dallas Mavericks.
Now, Ideally, like that, motivation comes in the locker room like it did with Miami, and they come out at a higher level to begin within that Siri's and they totally could have swept Dallas.
But it didn't.
What's important is that when that moment came, they responded, Uh, on now.
That moment, I think, has come against the Denver Nuggets, and they responded.
They might get another one of those moments against Denver.
I'm not counting Denver out, but I think that I think there will definitely be one or two or three of those moments in the Western Conference finals.
So it's about how you respond to that pressure, how how capable you are, dialing it up one more notch.
The other thing about them is they got a little bit like just a Let's call it what it is like a little bit of a LeBron prototype in round one with Luca, just in terms of the stuff that he sees in his size and his body is there anything you think that they've learned from guarding Luca that they can throw out there against LeBron? Or is it just you don't even find it to be comparable? Yeah, I think I think it's hard to compare Just Lucas. Great.
LeBron is great, but there's and I see.
I see how you're saying like, yeah, they do a lot of the same stuff, but they're just different.
Man e think psychologically playing against LeBron is different.
Um e I also think, you know the Clippers.
The Clippers didn't do a lot Toluca.
They played, you know what I mean? And they were like, Yeah, we'll be, you know, Lucas Great Lucas Great will beat you.
You know what I mean? I think they've done.
I have noticed them change what they do way more for Murray and Yokich than they did for Luca.
Um, which probably explains why Murray is having such a bad Siri's and and Luca ran all over the Clippers, right, right.
I am sure the Clippers will come out with a plan against LeBron James.
They're not going to just come out and play, so, you know, it's interesting the Clippers didn't definitely didn't show their hand against LeBron in the regular season.
They lost that game to the Lakers in March because LeBron picked on Lou Williams and switches and the Clippers just kept on giving the switch like they never trapped.
They never hedged.
They never had qualified over the screen.
They just gave the switch and let LeBron play one on one against the Williams.
And either I don't think there's a way toe like watch that stretch of game and say anything other than the Clippers are going to do something else in the playoffs.
And they didn't want to do it here, right on DSO.
Maybe part of the reason they played Lucas so straight is because they also didn't want to show that look, whatever, whatever it is they have up their sleeve.
But there will be something against LeBron.
I'm sure one of the things I've noticed is they've started doing just with a little bit more frequency is switching on, like as an entry passes coming in to yoke to Yokich.
They did a little.
I think that was game.
It must've been game for because they were on.
That's like the best Clippers defensive performance.
I've seen and they started doing little things like that.
And I was like, Oh, that's I bet we see quite a bit of that next round because that's really gonna be where the Lakers gonna try to hurt the Clippers.
There's a play.
There's a play in Game three in the fourth quarter of Game three where, um, your kitchen Murray run the pick and pop.
But instead of doing what the Clippers normally normally do, what are some earlier where PG chases Murray and zoo plays and drop Zoo is still in drop.
But you can see him point like as P G's chasing the play Zu bots points out to Yokich and PG switches onto Yokich.
Um, and then, you know, they play out of that because, co I was defending the guy in the strong side corner, and so he's able to dig in and help take away that Murray pull up, Um, and then the ball comes back out and they're able to switch, you know, switch everything back.
There was also a play where it's Patrick Beverley guarding Murray Beverly and Zoo bots switch.
But then, as Beverley is on Yokich on zoo boxes on Murray Murray pulls the ball out to throw an entry pass to Yokich and Beverley immediately, just like runs away and goes to Paul.
George is man and Paul George steps in and guards Yokich.
It ends up taking a charge, and I think that those kind of the Clippers have the talent and the length on the floor to play.
Like to do, to do difficult things on their back line defensively to make the lives of the guys guarding the primary action easier.
So a lot of that, like we're gonna make zoo bots contain Murray on the drive and recovered toe Yokich on the pop.
They don't need to do that.
You don't need to put that much pressure on one guy when you have a unit that it's so good defensively you can bring help.
Like you could bring Marcus Morris over to hedge of that Yokich three and say, Okay, cool.
I Leonard, I know you've got Millsap on the weak side block.
If the skip pass comes close out on Jeremy Grant in the corner so I can do that right on then zoo who's already in that drop coverage down to the basket can easily pick up Millsap from there so the Clippers can can do these more complicated rotations and switches.
I think we've seen it in moments, but without consistency on that is again.
That's part of that trust and repetition thing where you know it.
May the Clippers maybe a lot better defensively next year than they are this year.
That's a crazy thing to think about.
I mean, you look at like Toronto's.
Toronto's even more well oiled this year than last year.
I mean, it is so good for them.
They're so good and they're doing complex like It's not easy to figure out when to switch when not to switch, when to trap, when not to trap, like all that stuff just takes reps and figuring out different guys tendencies.
So that's what those thing to think about those guys on the Raptors, you have to think winning a championship together.
Even with Kawai leaving the rest of its basic, that team is basically the title team last year, minus Kawai with the minutes and shots adjusted to make up for that O g N N o.
Playing a big role, right? But the trust that they have in each other in their game plan.
How can you trust someone mawr than when you won a championship last year? Executing that scheme like there can be no higher level of trust in the guy next to you to do his job so that, you know, you only have to do your job.
I think right now where the Clippers sometimes I break down just like Kawhi Leonard.
The Clippers have quiet House breakdowns defensively sometimes, but I think a lot of it is him, like he is not sure that Landry Sham it's gonna do his job.
And so Kawai is kind of for playing free safety instead of focused on doing his job.
And I think when you get to that level of trust of the Raptors having each other right now, everyone is on Lee thinking about doing their job because they know everyone else is doing their job.
But what is also quite they were a little bit more quiet Jamal Murray, even than than from Game three, Game four like that.
I saw that coming and I was like Well, this means he's just he knows everybody behind him is taking care of business defensively.
Not to like this.
I think a big part of that is Paul George was in foul trouble.
Eso you know, Paul George only plays like 26 minutes in that game and Mrs Big stints.
He picks up his third foul early in the second, picks up his fourth foul early in the third.
So for those you know Landry Salmon to the guy who comes in off the bench and the Clippers are going to go with CO.
I understand Jamal Murray in those situations.
I I think I don't know.
I think if Paul George isn't in foul trouble, probably don't see the KOA Jamal Murray matchup is much, um, but it will be interesting to see what the Clippers do when it comes to the Lakers, because, I mean, it'll be interesting to see if the Lakers play big if they go back to Javelin Dwight.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Clippers were like Okay, Zoo.
You're gonna be guarding a D.
He's gonna get his go and compete the same way they're doing with Yokich.
They put Marcus Morris on LeBron and they say, alright, co I p g.
The Lakers are gonna score more than 100 10 points in the game.
Go score.
Um and yeah, it'll be really interesting to kind of see how those matchups go.
I'm sure down the stretch of close games CO I will be on LeBron.
But for the, you know, the bulk of the Siri's I it will be interesting to see how Doc Rivers kind of chooses to use his guys energy.
Um, let's do Let's do three adjustments.
You want to see for that Lakers serious, since we kind of just just a little preview, did a little bit.
And then your prediction as well? Yeah, I think so.
I think that the Clippers need toe play trays less and smarter.
If they're not gonna take him out of the rotation, they need to deploy him with a little more tact than they are right now.
So one way that I had suggested using him in this Denver Siris was if Yokich picks up a foul early in the first bring trends in because trends is a wrecking ball, he gets the free throw line.
That's like, you know his interior scoring is an elite skill and part of that is getting to the free throw line is an elite level skill that Montrose Harold has.
So I kind of feel similarly about a guy like Anthony Davis.
Especially if the Lakers go small.
You don't really want trees guarding Anthony Davis for extended stretches, but I think if Anthony Davis is in foul trouble, you can say like, yeah, we're gonna put treason for two minutes and just like I'm gonna tell trends, you know, I'm Doc Rivers.
I'm gonna tell trends you're going to go, go be a wrecking ball inside, chase every offensive rebound force Anthony Davis to get a, you know, loose ball foul hip, checking you to keep you off the glass, right? Like let's get him out of the game.
Um, and then I think it's just about second unit.
So, you know, trends has had a lot of success against Plumlee in this Siri's.
He was awful against Boban in the first round because Boban is nine inches taller than him, right? I mean, like, what you gonna do? That's not even tries his fault, really.
But when Yokich comes back in with the Nuggets second unit at times, the Clippers have a bad line up on the floor defensively and a bad matchup for Yokich in the game.
That could get a little sketchy.
So I think the Clippers need to be careful of if Anthony Davis plays with the Lakers second unit.
Or like if the Lakers play small in their second unit with, you know, maybe LeBron in and Trees ends up in those mismatches on ah unit, that is bad defensively to begin with and doesn't have any good rebounders to begin with.
Those could be some real nightmare runs for the Clippers, but I think if you play Trez with better players around him, it's easier to cover for him, right? If Pat and PG inquire Morris are on the floor, there's not as much dribble penetration that trend has to worry about containing.
There's not as many loose rebounds that he has to go get because Lou Williams doesn't get rebounds, right? So I think you know, deploying tries less and Mawr tactfully would be the first adjustment.
And that's the huge one.
I mean, that's the big one.
Uh, I think I would like to see them get Paul George going Mawr off the ball.
We talked a little bit about this.
They don't have all those actions in the playbook, but he's been inconsistent offensively in this playoffs.
And I think if they could, even just something simple, not something that's like they don't have to run a complicated action.
But while Kawhi Leonard and zoo bots are running the pick and roll, have Marcus Morris set of flair screen for CO I on the weak side and just for PG on the weak side and just tell quite like look over the top for PG in the corner, right? Getting PG some easier looks, I think, could be really big for them.
And then I'll say the last thing that I want to see Seymour of which is linked to the first bit is I want to see more John Michael Green.
I think he's been really good.
I think he has been really good and what the Lakers air so good at, I think one of the Lakers best thing that they do it was a team is when LeBron is that the three and eighties of the four and either JaVale or Dwight is in the game.
They have three a level shot blockers like There is so much length in the lane.
It's so hard to play against them.
If you have Marcus Morris guarding a D, and that's the matchup the Clippers are comfortable with and you put like Michael Green in against JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard all of a sudden, both of those guys regarding 40% 3 point shooters in the corner and the lane is way more open for like, okay, LeBron is on Kauai.
Well, uh, you know, Danny Green is on PG and Kentavious Caldwell Pope is on Lou Williams like, and the the lane is wide open with 5 40% 3 point shooters on the floor.
We're going to get to the rim, which is something that is really, really hard to do against the Lakers because they're so good interior with their interior defense.
So Michael Green can be a big counterpunch for that by taking those guys out in a way that where trends can actually really hurt you against Lakers because he doesn't score from outside 3 ft so and he's undersized.
Both of those things put together means when Kawhi Leonard drives to the lane JaVale McGee can potentially, like, cut off so I and recover to block treasures shot.
That's not gonna happen if Michael Green is standing all the way out in the corner and shooting 40% on corner threes.
So I would like to see him deployed center in that series and that will prop.
I mean, if they did that, I would assume it would really bring out more of the anti Davis at the five lineup, which is weirdly like exactly what the Lakers with me.
It's interesting because I you know, I if I'm playing against the Lakers, I want to bait them into playing small because because those two centers, I think when the game in the playoffs, the game is slow, you play in the half court more.
You need to get points in the paint.
Those two centers are like they're both really have have like, you know, they get a lot of flak because the eighties not playing five.
Those two guys have been like two of the Lakers, maybe best four players this year.
Uh, like they have been really good.
I mean, that's that might be a little hyperbolic, but like they've been two of the Lakers very good players this year.
And when you take them off the floor, yeah idea, The five is obviously a great look.
He's a great player, but the Lakers, the whole what you get out of that of of shifting small is the versatility of bringing in dynamic guards who could do a lot of things.
The Lakers just don't have those on their roster.
So, like when years that when when you shift anti Davis to the five and LeBron to the floor, what I'm getting more of as an opposing coach is I'm getting to pick on Kyle Kuzma.
Defensively, I'm getting toe leave Alex Caruso open.
I'm getting to leverage on Rondo Open.
I'm getting Dion waiters and J. R. Smith.
Please put them on the court against me in the Western Conference finals, right? And what we've seen the Laker.
I mean, I think Frank Vogel even knows this because even if he's shifted small with 88 the five he's still playing LeBron in the three and bringing Markieff Morris into the rotation at the four rather than giving extra minutes to that guard corps eso you know, a team like the Clippers might love to play small situation Lee, because when you shift Marcus Morris to the five instead of zoo bots, you can play Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams in the backcourt.
Or you can play.
Lou Williams and Landry Shaman have to really great shooters in the backcourt, right along with PG and quiet the forwards.
The Lakers.
When you like shift small.
Who is that like Mawr skilled guy that you get to bring in at shooting guard who doesn't normally get to play there? It's not anyone that I'm scared off a tough Yeah, I mean Danny Green.
But Danny Green is gonna be playing any.
You know what? He He's the guy who they will trust through his missus.
But like, yeah, yeah, like Rondo, KCP and Green is not a scary 123 in the Western Conference finals.
It just isn't What's your prediction clips? And six Wow six.
Yeah, I think.
I mean, I think I am fully prepared to give the Lakers MAWR credit when they start playing better.
They can't score, but they their offense in the bubble has been bad enough that it's hard for me.
I mean, you know what? Maybe we get into game one and I see something that I was not anticipating, and I feel like this is gonna be a different Siri's than it looks like right now.
But the Lakers offense look so rough to me right now.
I think there will be games where KCP hits a few threes and those will be the games where the Lakers win.
But, wow, I don't think it's happening. Four out of seven.
I don't know.
I don't know if they I think they deserve to be up to one right now, but I don't know if they've been the better team all the way.
It feels weird.
I think they probably deserve to be up to one.
But I think that says more about Houston, Houston E.
I mean, that's like E just like God.
The West Westbrook Fourth quarters have been terrible.
Yeah, and I think you know, Houston, I think with Houston is I just don't trust them.
No, I don't think they Yeah, there's just like they're actually so much better defensively than they have been.
But, um, I think the you know, for all that we complain about, Westbrook shot selection in this turnovers, which is totally, totally deserved.
I think he brings them, uh, kind of versatility defensively that Chris Paul didn't where Chris Chris is a better defender than ruses.
Russ Russ is out of position.
He gambles, but Russia's athletic gets defensive rebounds.
He flies around on the back line.
Chris Paul is the point of attack Defender.
You're not putting Chris Paul in the baseline and asked him to fly around.
That's not his game.
So Russ allows them to play defensively in a way that we haven't seen.
Ah Hardin D'Antoni, Rockets team play.
But unless they can convince him to like, I don't know if it's to convince him or a teach him or like what if the breakdown is like in ability or knowledge or willingness, but the shot selection and the turnovers man like you could not trap the Chris Paul Houston Rockets with as much effectiveness as you are with the Russell Westbrook Houston Rockets.
Because if the ball comes out of the trap to Chris Paul, if you trap James Harden, the ball comes out to Chris Paul, you're gonna get a good look.
Four on three every time I said this about the Clippers when they were trapping Murray and letting your kids play in four on three.
Yokich picks you apart in five on five.
He's going to shred you in.
Four on three.
Chris, Paul Chris.
Paul has been picking teams apart in the five on five for 15 years.
He is going to shred you in the forearm. Three.
Russell Westbrook cannot throw in on target chest pass to a corner shooter right now like he is killing them and it makes it hard to trust them.
It does.
I agree.
I agree completely.
I don't know.
There's still time for them to figure it out.
I think also part of it, too, is like, I think they probably get another game.
Yeah, I and I wish this thing wasn't going on with house right now because I feel I don't know why I keep it's like this.
I keep buying the Houston thing.
I keep doing it this playoffs and I'm like, I don't know why I keep doing this, but I would probably buy them again today, but I just I don't know.
There's too much up in the air right now with them I really I e don't know what's gonna happen from that investigation, but it's I don't know how it affects them.
Yeah, I mean, I just think that, you know, it's the Rockets when I saw them in the first round, there's just like a there's they don't have it like they just don't They just don't have it.
They were especially.
They are way better than the Oklahoma City thunder, and you know, they're the Oklahoma City Clippers, so you know I like him.
But the Rockets are way better than the thunder that series should not like.
How many games were the Rockets ahead? For 46 minutes? I was reading a Game five.
I was like, We're gonna wrap this up like we're done here and and I don't think the Rockets are better than the Lakers.
I think the Rockets can beat the Lakers and I think they specifically are like a nightmare matchup for the Lakers.
Because what I was saying, the Lakers best trade.
Their best trade as a team is their interior defense and the Rockets shoot 50 threes, right? So that that becomes a nightmare.
The Rockets force you to play small and I think you want, like if you're the Lakers, you don't want to play small.
Vogel has gotten a lot of crap for this this year.
I think that stubbornly resisting the urge to go small and sticking with his big guys throughout the year is a testament to him knowing what's coming in a way where a lot of people watching the games, who just want to space the floor and score a lot of points, don't see what's coming in the same way as he does.
So I I give him credit for that.
But the Rockets, the Rockets have won the style matchup against the Lakers.
They've won the stylistic battle, but they just aren't They can't execute consistently enoughto win games.
And if they if they were executing, they could be up three right now, or at least to one, because Games two and three should have both been coin flips.
But if they can't execute, then the Lakers, no matter how tough they play the Lakers Lakers, we're gonna pull away in Games four and five as well.
So if they figure out how to execute, I think the Games will continue being coin flips in the second half and you still have a chance to win at least one of the next two games and extend the Siri's.
If they can't execute Lakers, they're gonna keep pulling away.
It's a simple is that with that? We're almost We're about four minutes away.
I wanna let you plug away anything you have coming out.
This has been amazing.
You've explained.
The Clippers have some has been like a therapy session for good.
Here it's more like a therapy session for me because you've been You've been asking me the questions that I've been, you know, talking about my feelings.
E No, it's been a blast.
My name is Lucas Han.
My Twitter is at Lucas J. Hand.
That's H A N.
And on the last name, the block is two and three.
Hoops two and three hoops dot com at two and three. Hoops.
Uh, yeah.
Two and three hoops.
Uh, and our podcast is the lob, The jam, the podcast.
You know, shout out Thio longtime clippers and out to Ralph Lawler, who called the lob the jam.
Eso we Yeah, we have the lot of the jam.
The podcast.
It's great fun during this playoff run, We're doing a postgame show Every single game.
Eso we're doing postgame reaction to every game.
It's been a blast on DSO Yeah, if you're you know, folks at home are interested in hearing more about the Clippers. Come check us out.
Thank you so much for coming on. This is wonderful.
Yeah, man, Thanks for having me, right.
That's really Yeah, yeah.


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EP 23: The 2020 NBA Draft Class w/ Corey Tulaba AKA Hardwood Herald
EP 22: The New Era of Indiana Pacers Basketball w/ Caitlin Cooper of Indy Cornrows

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