The NBA Playoffs are underway.
The Los Angeles Clippers rolled past the Portland Trail Blazers 115-95 on Sunday night at Staples Center in the first game of the series. After the Clippers got bounced by the Houston Rockets after holding a commanding series lead in last year's playoffs, L.A. looks to move on from the past and make a run in the dangerous Western Conference.
The Blazers are one of the biggest surprises in the NBA. Not many people had Portland making the playoffs, yet alone the five-seed in the West after losing LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum in the offseason. Somehow, someway, the Blazers found a way to grab a spot in the playoffs.
Usually teams from outside California enjoy coming to the Golden State, with In-N-Out Burgers usually a must on any road trip. It's safe to say the Blazers got their fair share of double-doubles after game 1, as three Clippers players finished with a double-double to take the victory.
Portland struggles in opening game
The Blazers are a young and inexperienced team, but don't let that stop everybody from actually giving them a shot to win the series.
Game one was rough for the Blazers, as they shot just 39 percent as a team from the field and 73 percent from the free throw line. Portland finished second to the Clippers in every category except for free throw shooting. The Blazers did have some success from beyond the arc, finishing 10-30 on the night for a 33 percent mark.
The story for the Blazers all season has been their dynamic backcourt. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have lead the way all season long, finishing with a combined average of 45.9 points per game this season, which is good for third-highest by any duo in the league in 2015-2016. On Sunday night the two combined for just 30 points, well below their average.
Lillard finished with a team-high 21 points on 7-17 from the field to go with eight dimes in 37 minutes. McCollum played the same number of minutes as Lillard, but finished with just nine points on 3-11 from the field.
The Blazers only had two players besides Lillard finish in double-digit scoring. Al-Farouq Aminu had 10 points and 12 boards on just 3-12 shooting, and was the only Blazer to finish with a double-double. Gerald Henderson scored 16 off the bench on 7-12 shooting from the field in 29 minutes.
The biggest problem for the Blazers? They had no player to match up well with the duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The two bigs for L.A. combined for 37 points and 24 rebounds on the night, and the Blazers are going to have to find some way to stop them if they want to come away as winners in this series.
If the Blazers want to have any chance of moving on to the next round and face the defending champion Golden State Warriors, they must find a way to contain one or both of the Clippers bigs. If not, this could a be a short series.
Clippers roll in game one
The Clippers are out to make a statement. The talk of the league is the Warriors this, the Warriors that, and, every once in a while, the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers feel that they can go all the way, and are out to prove the doubters wrong.
The Clippers had a true team effort on Sunday night as three players finished with double-doubles and six players finished with 10 points or more.
Chris Paul, the veteran point guard, was brilliant in game one of the series. Paul went 10-19 from the field to finish with 28 points and 11 dimes with six boards in just 32 minutes of play. Blake Griffin was too much for the Blazers down low, going 5-10 with 19 points and 12 boards.
Center DeAndre Jordan, who infamously spurned the Dallas Mavericks and came back to L.A., had 18 points and 12 boards on 5-7 shooting from the field to go with four blocked shots. Jordan was the victim of, yet again, the Hack-A-Jordan tactic, as he finished the game going 8-18 from the line, which is just a tad over his season percentage of 43 percent. Jordan even air balled a free throw in this contest, which is almost becoming a norm.
J.J. Redick had 17 points on 8-12 shooting, while Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford combined for 24 points on 11-22 shooting off of the bench. Rivers and Crawford each shot 50 percent from the field, and the Clippers had no problems beating the Blazers in the same arena where Kobe Bryant played his final game earlier this week.
The Clippers are sure happy to have Griffin back in the lineup. After missing 45 games with an injury and a suspension, the Clippers have won all six of their contests. The team famously known as "Lob City" was just that on Sunday, gathering steals, alley-oops, high-flying dunks, and hustle play after hustle play.
The Clippers shot an outstanding 54 percent from the field, and if they can continue to play like this, they will more than likely head to the second round with a matchup against-you guessed it-Golden State.
Game two in the series will be back at Staples Center on Wednesday night as the Blazers look to even up the series.