Clippers Can Utilize Past Success to Clinch Playoff Berth


In the Western Conference’s seven-versus-eight-seed play-in game, the Los Angeles Clippers are set to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night.

The Clips match up well against the T-Wolves, emerging victorious in three of their four matchups this season, but anything can happen in one game. The lone loss, however, came without Paul George.

There is little chance to go down two games in the Play-In Tournament like the Clippers did three times last postseason, but they must focus on the following keys in order to secure the best first-round draw.

PG Shaking Off the Rust

George’s presence drastically alters the expectations of this team. He wasted no time since returning to play against the Jazz on March 29th. In a game that gave the Jazz Deja vu, the Clippers valiantly rallied for a 25-point comeback.


Albeit a small sample size, in the five games PG has played since his return, the Clippers have a 121.6 offensive rating, blowing their 112.3 rating without George out of the water.

PG’s return has taken the offense to new heights. The attention he demands from opposing defenses leads to many open looks from three for his teammates.

He presents a matchup nightmare for the Timberwolves.

Minnesota’s best options consist of our friend Patrick Beverley and sophomore Jaden McDaniels. Beverley can stay with the best in the game on the perimeter, but PG can shoot over the top of him. McDaniels has the height and length to match PG, but he is still a young player lacking in strength and has question marks on the offensive end.

With a recently bolstered offense, the Clippers are ready to take it to the Timberwolves.

Making KAT Work

One of the best ways to slow down an opposing team’s premier scorers is to make them work on the defensive end.

The most success coach Tyronn Lue has found slowing down these elite bigs like KAT is when Ivica Zubac takes them down low and crashes the glass. Zubac posted double-doubles in all three of the team’s victories against the Timberwolves this year, including a 32-point double-double in a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The Clippers found success attacking the paint against the Timberwolves earlier this year on November 13th. They relentlessly attacked the rim when Towns was on the floor and were rewarded with high-quality buckets.

Reggie Jackson maintaining this aggressiveness at the rim will be crucial to this matchup. Against Utah in the second round last year, he was able to use drop coverage as a runway where he would catch centers off guard with his unorthodox layup attempts.

Minnesota finds themselves very susceptible to being punished with pick and rolls, which is what we can expect with George back in the lineup alongside his big-man counterpart, Zubac. To kill two birds with one stone, the Clippers can use their big men while occupying KAT defensively through these sets.

The Clippers excel at generating three-point looks from any actions that see the ball handler going downhill.

Take a moment to appreciate the first play, a wonderful Spain Pick-and-Roll drawn up by Coach Lue.

Stopping the Three-Headed Monster

The Timberwolves boast the league’s fifth-best quintet when ranking by net rating.

They are headlined by Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, who have combined for 29 games with 30 or more points this season. Any trio where each member can create a shot for themselves will be hard to stop. A one-game scenario makes them even more daunting, knowing that any one of them could go off.

The Clippers, however, have no shortage of lengthy wings– the NBA’s most coveted asset. Throwing wings on wings at the Timberwolves’ ball handlers won’t shut them down, but it will certainly make their lives difficult.

One of the more intriguing matchup questions is who will guard Jarred Vanderbilt? You may wonder why even discuss who will guard a seven-point-per-game scorer. Well, schemes do not care about your feelings; you will get left open if you can not shoot.

While he can’t shoot, he excels in other areas. Vanderbilt is an excellent offensive rebounder, and if you sag off him, it will be hard to keep him off the glass. This year, he has also been revolutionary to the Timberwolves’ defense, mucking up the passing lanes, excelling in the weakside help role, and possessing exceptional hustle.

The Celtics provided a blueprint on how to make things difficult for KAT. Vanderbilt’s nearest defender helps off him early, and with no hesitation, forcing KAT into some very difficult shots.

While the Clippers lack the rim protection of a big like Robert Williams, giving the nod to Robert Covington would allow him to freelance on defense, shadow Towns, and get in the passing lanes. It also provides the Clippers with the opportunity to run zone. With all of the Clippers’ lengthy wings, it will make things difficult for any opponent.

After a year full of ups and downs, clinching a playoff berth this Tuesday will reward the team for their perseverance, quenching the thirst for playoff basketball in Los Angeles.

About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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