“Chief Aminu”

Al-Farouq Aminu had the sliders turned to the max last night. (Jaime Valdez/USA TODAY Sports)

Star UnderDOGs are vital to succeed in the postseason. Last night, Portland‘s Al-Farouq Aminu had one of the “starriest” performances you’ll see out of a role player this postseason.

Facing a 2-1 deficit at home, Portland needed to come out with fire to avoid a damning 3-1 hole heading back to LA.

Enter: Aminu. He has a nasty looking J and isn’t the smoothest scorer around, so it’s natural to sag off him right?

Well, that strategy proved fruitless as Aminu cashed six triples on the way to a career-high 30 points. Yes, you read that correctly.

SIX triples.

But HOW did he get so wide open? Why didn’t Doc Rivers make the adjustment to lock down the only guy with a hot hand in the starting five? (Dame & CJ combined to go 10-28)

It’s a mixture of two things. Frankly, the Clippers just decided not to defend Aminu at the outset of the game. His first look? An uncontested, straightaway three with set feet and enough time to decide post-game plans.

His second? Another WIDE-OPEN look on the left elbow, one of Aminu’s money spots. A couple free throws and a block-to-bucket sequence later, Portland already captured momentum.

And field goal #3? An easy dunk via nice penetration from CJ McCollum. Before the Clips paid attention to Aminu, he had 10 quick points.

And you don’t need to be a sharpshooter to have a huge night from downtown, though Aminu is much improved at 36% this year. After getting into a rhythm, with the crowd roaring, Aminu kept spotting up and rising for his looks, never deviating from the game plan on offense.

Without Blake Griffin and CP3 for the rest of the playoffs, LAC will have all eyes on limiting penetration from Portland’s high-scoring guards. Aminu, Moe Harkless and Allen Crabbe need to stay ready to dive hard, knock down open Js and attack closeouts.

Al-Farouq Aminu probably won’t have another 30-point, 10-rebound night in the 2016 playoffs (scored 28 total points in Games 1-3). But a Star UnderDOG whose confidence is at an all-time high, is a deadly X-Factor going forward.


-Jabari J.

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