Nick Young has made his feelings known. The outspoken former Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards shooting guard took to Twitter June 1 to share which NBA teams he sees advancing to the finals. His picks this year? The Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Young, who spent a hot minute with the Clips during the 2011-2012 season, Tweeted his prediction a few days after the Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 to even the series 2-2. Things started off bleak for the Clippers after the team fell into an 0-2 hole courtesy of lights out play by Luka Doncic and incredibly accurate shooting from his supporting cast.
Clips head coach Ty Lue made some adjustments as the series progressed, however, and his team responded, riding largely on stellar performances from Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. But can the Clippers finally get over the hump and make the finals? After their recent play, Young is certainly a believer.
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Ty Lue Made Key Roster Moves in Game 4
“I think when you’re down 2-0 and you’re coming into another team’s arena, it shows what you’re made of,” Lue said heading into Game 3, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The Clippers haven’t lost since, and much credit goes to their head coach mixing things up lineup-wise.
Reggie Jackson, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris, Leonard and George got the start in Game 3, with Jackson getting the nod over Patrick Beverley, and Lue took Zubac out and added Nicolas Batum in for Game 4. The result was better overall team defense that flustered Mavs big man Kristaps Porzingis, who managed just nine points in 33 minutes of action in Game 3.
“I thought Luka was able to make some shots early on and get Zu,” Lue said about making the switch from Zubac to Batum, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. “We decided to switch more and try to make him play more one-on-one and just try to wear him down.” It certainly worked.
Teamwork is Making the Dream Work for Clips Against Mavs
“You’ve got to mix it up, and you’ve got to be on the same page when you do it, and that’s the biggest thing, just being on the same page in our communication,” Lue told Sports Illustrated about how his team has responded in its first playoff series.
“They’ve got two great players that are just putting their head down and basically trying to go through us,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said about the formidable duo of Leonard and George. “We’ll look at the film, see what we can do better. And, look, the first two games we won were very high-scoring games.”
The Clips have relied heavily on Leonard, who is averaging 33 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists in the series, and George, who is scoring 25 points a game while also hauling in 8.5 boards and dishing out 4.5 assists — but key contributions from Jackson and Batum, among others.
“We’re helping each other. We’re trusting each other a little bit more. We played pretty good defense the last two games,” Leonard said after the Game 4 win.
If the Clippers can continue to gel and play well together on both sides of the ball, Young’s prediction may very well come true. Stay tuned, Clipper Nation.