Blake Griffin’s word of choice to describe the Clippers’ turnaround was “relaxed.”
The Clippers blew out the Golden State Warriors, 138-98, on Monday night to even their Western Conference first-round playoff series at 1-1.
The 138 points were the most the Clippers had scored in a playoff game in franchise history. Their 40-point margin was also a franchise record for a playoff game. And the 35 points Griffin scored were his playoff career high.
The Clippers even went 32 for 35 (91.4%) from the free-throw line.
“You always hope to play a well-rounded game like that, but I just felt going into the game we were much more relaxed,” Griffin said Tuesday. “We [thought we] were going to play better. Fortunately, we did.”
It was impossible to know how the Clippers would respond after Game 1 on Saturday, because they failed to deliver during the game’s critical moments as they lost to the Warriors, 109-105, and lost home-court advantage. Griffin fouled out in the opener, playing only 19 minutes.
But, as Griffin said, the Clippers came in with a relaxed mind-set for Game 2.
“I just think we realized that if we just played our game and did the things we worked on, we’d be successful,” Griffin said. “With how poorly we played and how everything went in Game 1 and to be tied there at the end, I think it was kind of a little bit of encouragement for us even with the loss.”
Now, the series shifts to Oracle Arena in Oakland for the next two games.
The Clippers were relaxed Tuesday even about dealing with Chris Paul’s right hamstring injury, because their All-Star point guard gets two days of rest before Game 3 on Thursday night.
Paul suffered the injury in the second quarter of Game 1.
In Game 2, Paul had his hamstring wrapped up when he was on the bench resting. He also wore a small wrap under his game shorts in Monday’s game.
Paul has been getting extensive treatment for the injury.
“He needs it, because I think he’s doing everything he can with it, to be honest,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “Two days are huge for him to get rest.”
Paul played 27 minutes in Game 2, finishing with 12 points and 10 assists, but he also had five turnovers.
When the series started Saturday, Rivers said he and his staff talked about uncertainties regarding starting guard J.J. Redick, who had recently returned after a lengthy absence because of a bulging disk in his back, and about reserve guard Jamal Crawford’s returning to play after he suffered a strained left calf.
“We left the game [Monday] night thinking we need two days for CP,” Rivers said. “So these days will be good for him.”
The Clippers didn’t practice Tuesday, and Rivers said his team “may do a little” in practice on Wednesday before it flies to the Bay Area for Game 3.
“But I don’t need [Paul] doing anything,” Rivers said.
One of the things the Clippers did well in Game 2 was to share the basketball, getting 29 assists on 47 field goals.
They played great perimeter defense, holding the Warriors to 21.1% shooting (four for 19) from three-point range.
The Clippers also turned the ball over just 13 times, while forcing the Warriors into 26 turnovers.
All of these good things happened, Griffin said, because the Clippers were so relaxed.
“That’s what helped us,” Griffin said. “We play well when we’re relaxed. We play well when we’re just playing free. We try to achieve that every single night.”