The Clippers defeated the Nuggets with ease in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night, 120-97, and their defensive issues were a big reason why.
Los Angeles did whatever it wanted on offensive, with players getting to their spots for open looks, and even getting into the paint for a number of high-percentage shots, as well as dunks. Kawhi Leonard carved their interior defense apart early and often.
And that’s why the spotlight has been on Nikola Jokic, as he was tasked with being the rim-protecter on most plays, yet failed miserably in that regard.
Warriors big man Draymond Green plays that same role for his team, and does it well, so Jokic’s struggles stood out to him. Green shared his thoughts about Jokic’s defensive woes on “Inside the NBA” following the game.
“If they are going to win, he has to be better,” Green began.
“You have to make an impact at the rim if they’re going to be successful, and he hasn’t done that tonight, he hasn’t done that all year,” Green said. “If they are going to win he must protect the rim a little better, and it hasn’t much to do with his athleticism.”
We completely agree with Jokic’s take, but it doesn’t look like he has the physical tools to stop the Clippers and their superstars in the paint. It’s not an overnight fix.