April 30, 2014

2014 NBA Playoffs: DeAndre Jordan finally finding his niche with Clippers

DeAndre Jordan was formerly seen as a one dimensional player, who's freakish athletic ability catapulted him to the crest of everyone's top ten plays. However, his atrocious free throw shooting, shaky footwork and unpolished post game left him navigating through troubled skies, but with Doc Rivers at the coaching helm, things have looked up for the 25 year old Houston native.

Rivers has expressed complete and utter belief in Jordan, something that was clearly absent with former coach Vinny Del Negro.

In LAC's 113-103 Tuesday night triumph over Golden State, Jordan played a monumental role, as he scored 25 points, snagged down 18 rebounds and swatted 4 shots. These gaudy numbers make Jordan the first player since Tim Duncan in 2008 to have 25 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocks in a playoff game.

He's also the first player to accomplish this feat while shooting over 80%.To some this may be surprising, as Jordan registered an abysmal performance the contest before this.

Jordan in game four had 0 points, and was primarily a non factor in the contest as the Warriors put a thorough waxing on the Clips.

The Jordan of year's past would've grown frustrated. He would've let his output in game four rattle him psychologically, as he pondered if such a performance would lead to him being parked on the bench.

His performance Tuesday shows the maturation that not only his game, but his mentality has undergone, and it displays the discipline in which Doc River's his instilled within DeAndre. Jordan remained focused and eager, and this set the stage for him to dominate in game five, giving the Clippers a 3-2 series edge heading back to Golden State.
In the Clippers past playoff bouts, Jordan was yanked off the floor as Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans were primed to play crunch time minutes. Jordan played 22.6 MPG in the 2011-12 playoffs, and then logged 24 MPG in the 2012-13 postseason.

This year under Doc, Jordan is playing 34.6 minutes per game in the first round series against the Warriors, and with an his increased responsibility has come increased production.

In the playoffs thus far, DeAndre is averaging a postseason career high 12.2 PPG (6th among centers,) 13.8 RPG (2nd best this postseason,) and 4.2 BPG (1st best this postseason.) He's learning that his dominance doesn't just have to be restricted to the defensive end, as his expertise in leaping and running the floor gives him a major edge over most bigs.

DeAndre has perfected the rim run, proceeding to dash to the rim after a major block or key rebound. Usually, these sprints towards the hoop result in a beautiful dime from the league's best point guard Chris Paul, or a lob from counterpart Blake Griffin.

His interior game isn't the most polished, but he's making the most out of his opportunities in the paint. Jordan is looking more and more comfortable as each game transpires, and this success can be accredited to his coach, point guard and most importantly himself.

Jordan's dedication and hard work has placed him in this position. Yes, he has garnered knowledge from external sources along the way, but he's seizing his potential and maximizing it. He's putting himself into a position in which he can thrive, and his teams success is becoming dependent upon this.

DeAndre isn't letting egocentric thoughts plagued or distract him. He isn't letting his role or the size of it bother him. He's remaining focused on what coach Rivers is telling him to do.

He knows coach Rivers respects him, and to redeliver that respect to Doc, DJ is doing everything Doc asks. Rebounding, blocking, defending, and cleaning up offensive miscues is usually what is demanded from Jordan, and he's proving to the basketball world that he's more than capable of doing all of this.

He's anchoring the Clipper defense, as his energy and effort has made attacking the rim a burden for Steph Curry and company. He's corralling every rebound with such a ferocity that it makes it intimidating for the opposition to even try and attempt to grab one.

On Tuesday night, with the game very much in the balance, DeAndre stepped to the free throw line trying to continue to add on the Clippers lead. Jordan shot eight free throws in the fourth quarter, connecting on six of them. Even in the midst of his misses, he was reassured completely by his teammates and coaching staff.

In years past, every clank would increase the likelihood of Jordan being strapped to the bench in the games waining moments. He pondered how his services could be utilized in crunch time, but the answer to this question seemed distant as Jordan was forced to gaze upon the action from the bench in the games most heart wrenching moments.

Now with Doc helping him, the confidence has skyrocketed. Jordan knows that it's okay to miss free throws, and not to let the past determine his future. He knows that he must play through it, and these "Hack-A-Jordan" episodes can be overcome with poise and control.

Doc knows that Jordan's contributions are so beneficial to the team that a few missed free throws by Jordan may not be the worst thing, especially if he can control 15 plus rebounds and block 3 plus

Tuesday night, Jordan did a remarkable job of putting his stamp on the game, and with each and every stride he takes, the Clippers could take another one as well as they attempt to be the one's to cross the finish line at the seasons conclusion.

In the wake of all the Donald Sterling madness, Jordan's continued growth is a diamond in the rough. As the NBA and the Clippers have rid themselves of a foolish and ignorant figure, Los Angeles has gained an individual booming with confidence and promise.

DeAndre is out to prove that his game is multifaceted, and that the one dimension conviction is one that is extremely false. If the Clippers intend to close this series out in six games, they may need Jordan to produce in the same fashion he did Tuesday evening.

Oracle Arena is sure to be rocking, and Steph Curry and the Warriors are salivating at the thought of extending this series to a game seven. For Jordan and the Clippers, they must be ready to put an end to this dream so they can continue to chase theirs. That's what the NBA playoffs are all about, and that is what makes them so unique.

Will the Clippers close it out at Oracle Arena? Has DeAndre Jordan impressed you this postseason? Share thoughts and opinions on Twitter (@wcboyer24) and continue to support The Basketball Society. 

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