A recap of how former Duke players did in last night’s NBA Playoffs
AUSTIN RIVERS, CLIPPERS
Yesterday I wrote about Clippers guard Austin Rivers’ welcome-to-the-NBA game on Sunday afternoon. He sliced up a Spurs team which finished 4th in Team Defensive Efficiency for 16 points on 7 of 8 shooting. His importance to the team was highlighted by his +/- of “plus 7,” which was third on the team behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. I wondered whether this performance would springboard Rivers towards more consistent play or if it would fall as an outlier. Rivers then backed up his Sunday performance with a regression to the mean on Tuesday. He was far less aggressive in taking only four shots, two of which could easily be labeled as highly questionable (including a guarded heave from 3 at the start of a possession for no apparent reason.) In 12 minutes of play, Rivers was underwhelming, shooting 1 of 4 from the field and failing to convert on either of his free throw attempts. There was one highlight for him on the night though, as he caught a pass on the perimeter with 2.5 seconds left in the third, made a quick move around San Antonio defender Danny Green and banked home a long two-pointer at the buzzer:
This shot tied the game at 82 heading into the fourth, and was pretty much the only sound heard from Rivers all night long. It seemed that Rivers got a little caught up in Sunday’s performance and tried to force the issue more than the game was allowing. While he is at his best when he is cutting to the rim and trying to make his own shot, he seemed far too jittery and anxious last night to be effective. I look for a happy medium between his Game 4 and Game 5 performances on Thursday night in Game 6.
JJ REDICK, CLIPPERS
Rivers’ Clippers teammate JJ Redick had a solid outing Tuesday night against the Spurs. While JJ’s jumpshot has been somewhat erratic over the last month or so, he got things going in the right direction again in Game 5. Redick shot 6 for 10 on the night, with all 10 attempts coming from inside the 3-point line. He hit a couple shots in consecutive possessions during a pivotal stretch where it looked like San Antonio might grab all of LA’s momentum away.
There were two things that I would have liked to see go differently last night for Redick and the Clips. First, he was used ONLY as a decoy during the final 6-8 minutes of the game. Doc Rivers was drawing up plays that called for Redick to set up camp in the corner and wait for a pass. Redick has shown since his days at Duke that he is lethal without the ball in his hands. He is adept in brushing off defenders and creating space for a jumper before a teammate’s pass makes it to his hands. Using him the way Doc did towards the end of the game has become all too common for the Clippers, and is something that needs to change. Second qualm with Redick’s night: he fouled out. No matter whether the coach was using him correctly or not, Redick needed to be available for LA at the end of the game in the off chance Doc wanted to draw up a play for him during the final minutes. Even if the play hadn’t been drawn up for Redick, the respect his 3-point abilities command would have been something San Antonio could have used to open up a shot for someone else.