Lue’s coaching staff has set certain targets for how they should play every game. Among them: Taking at least 36 three-pointers, committing fewer than 12 turnovers, and 24 assists. They know where their focus needs to be defensively as well.
“I think if we can keep teams in halfcourt sets, not give them easy baskets, and rebound the ball, I think those are the two areas that we’re struggling in, especially in losses,” George said. “In wins, you know, it’s glaring that we took care of those two. And in losses, you know, we’ve struggled. So those two areas, I think personally is … what we’ve got to get better.”
George is right. In wins all season, the Clippers are averaging 47.4 rebounds, five more than in losses. In the past five games, the gap is even wider — a difference of nearly eight rebounds between wins and losses. During the past week, Dallas and Sacramento averaged only 102 points in their losses to the Clippers. Meanwhile, Denver, New Orleans and Golden State averaged 116 while beating the Clippers.
No defensive performance this season was more puzzling than against Denver on Monday. Lue called the breakdowns “elementary.” The Nuggets constantly snuck behind the back line of a defense whose “low man” was rarely in position. Against Golden State, Green also hurt the Clippers that way.
“I feel like we’re starting to get a little flow going,” Leonard said when asked about his impressions of the past week. “Still need to improve on the defensive end, I feel like. Lot of easy layups for them tonight, open threes, we got lucky because they missed some.”