Playoff basketball isn’t about perfection so much as compromise. If your opponent is going to attack your specific weaknesses, you counter and try to negate their strengths. Take Golden State’s comical adjustment last year where they stuck saw Andrew Bogut on Tony Allen and effectively dared him to shoot. He bricked some jumpers, Bogut could focus on more important tasks, and the Warriors’ gamble worked. Six broken Tony Allen jumpers does not equal half-a-dozen Marc Gasol shots, after all.
The Clippers have chosen so far in their series with Portland to aggressively double Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on pick-and-rolls, which makes it harder for the two guards to penetrate into the heart of the defense, but opens up opportunities for Portland’s other players. Tonight’s beneficiary was Al-Farouq Aminu, who scored a career-high 30 points with six threes, and added in three blocks and ten rebounds for good measure. The Blazers won going away 98-84.
Aminu’s always been an underrated, erratic sort of player, and he’s thrived in Terry Stotts’ spread-out system where he plays roughly half his time as a small-ball four. Players like him who can swing between guarding power forwards on one end and shooting threes on the other are a rare breed. Aminu is elite at neither, but he’s competent enough to give the team some flexibility.
If you leave Aminu open, like L.A. did tonight, he’ll make you pay. He has such an ugly stroke, but it works. It looks like he’s casting a fishing line out there, creating all the leverage with his elbow. He doesn’t release at the apex of his leap, but he shot 36% this season. Check Aminu out, hitting a million threes in a row before Game 3.
It’s not as offensive as Kevin Martin’s crumpled shot or Shawn Marion’s T-Rex flick but this is not a handsome jumper, and I like it all the more for its strange effectiveness. The now Chris Paul-less Clippers will host Game 5 on Wednesday, in a series that suddenly looks like it’ll go longer than expected.