First off, kudos to Denver. I loved their team, did not expect them to knock out Kawhi and that team's depth chart, but they did it. That was a basketball whipping. They looked great. I don't know if it's possible but I hope they get Barton back. I hope they have everybody 100% against Lakers, because they'll need the depth. I really think that's the Lakers' x-factor; they've got the deepest veteran bench. So many options; they've got 2 big centers to throw at Jokic. Two scrappy higher-IQ PGs who will more effectively frustrate Murray than Beverley, who over-compensates for his lack of offensive skills with a mean bite. Kuzma and MPJ can go at it to see who can score in streaky bunches and defend less. All these distractions leave either Lebron or Davis to do damage.
Hopefully Jokic can outplay them by dragging them to the perimeter, but we'll see; Howard is going to be motivated to forever erase his abomination of a first Lakers stint. I do think Rockets had a break-down similar to the Clippers. Assuming the Nuggets keep trucking on, I don't expect LAL to look so confident. They're not going to get open looks like the Rockets gave - there is no way the Lakers shoot 50% from the 3P line. So I actually really believe Denver can pull this off.
But back to Clippers...
Wow. The Terminator put his head down and gave up. I do genuinely believe he is the best player in the world right now, but he just wasn't interested in bailing out his team tonight. To be fair, the Clippers' lack of offensive creativity just hit a hard stop these 3 halves.
Paul George used to be a confident clutch player. It looks like he's got the yips. He made 2 of his 11 from the arc, but man, some of them looked so bad.
A combined 1-3 from the FT line for these two guys?
Really weak individual performances, but obviously the team had its criticisms all year long. You can only load manage and rehab for so long. At a certain point, if your engine never ran for more than 10 miles at a time during regular season, it's hard to steam-roll that final race (especially with the weirdness coming into a bubble with various guys quarantined). Maybe they had valid reasons, but if I recall, half their team made it to the bubble really late. Doc couldn't get a practice or even any games with Beverley or Harrell. IMO, throwing your starting PG with no prep against a hot Dallas squad was probably a headache for Doc. It SEEMED like the Clippers came into the bubble less serious about the resuming reason than teams like Boston, Utah, Dallas, Denver, etc. On the other hand, everybody had some kind of chemistry hiccups with various player quarantines and injuries. Boo hoo.
Really, Paul George declined down to a 16 PER playoff performance, which left a big burden for Kawhi to fill in terms of consistency. The team wasn't built with another secondary scorer in mind besides Lou, who is a bench spark. He's at that crucial juncture where he can make that late career push to push his decline back, or he falls deeper. He hasn't had a 20+ PER playoff measure since leaving IND. Clippers bet on him returning to an efficient rating, but the guy has been very injured. Best luck to them, cause Clippers are screwed if PG doesn't work out.