Finals first-timer Clarkson says "Time to put it together"
ABS-CBN Sports on May 31, 2018 10:41 AM
FILE - Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson (8) drives against Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) during the first half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 27, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Fil-Am guard Jordan Clarkson is in the Finals for the very first time in his career, and the Cleveland Cavaliers reserve knows he'll need to step up his game.
Speaking to media prior to Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, Clarkson recalled the circumstances that landed him on the Cavaliers, prior to this year's trade deadline, saying, "We've only been here, what, two, three months kind of putting this together.
"For me, the whole playoffs have been learning how to play in this game, half court stuff, [Coach] Lue giving me the opportunity to go out there and play, and now we're here. Now it's time to put it all together or leave it all on the floor."
Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. both became members of the Cavaliers in February, when the LA Lakers traded them East to The Land, in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a future first-round pick.
Added Clarkson, "You know, it's definitely each round I feel like I've learned something new each time I stepped on the floor. Now there's no turning back. We're here. Leave it all on the floor, everything I learned through the process, through the time that I've been here playing with these guys. Time to put it together.
"From day one [of becoming a Cavalier] it's kind of been preached to us that this is our goal. Make it to the Finals and compete for a championship."
In 28 regular season games with Cleveland, Clarkson averaged 12.6 points (45.6 FG%, 40.7 3FG%), 2.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists, as instant offense off the bench. That was just a slight dip from his numbers in LA of 14.5 points (44.8 FG%, 32.4 3FG%), 3.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. However, the Playoffs have been a different story. He's down to just 4.9 points (30.9 FG%, 25.6 3FG%), 1.6 rebounds, and 0.7 assists.
Still, Clarkson isn't discouraged. His teammates have been building him up, he says. "We're here to win, win a championship. That's kind of what's been preached to me. Go out there and be you and play free."
One interesting sub-plot is that Clarkson and Nance Jr. will be playing across a former Lakers teammate, Nick Young. Young signed with the Warriors this past offseason after a stint with LA.
"You know how Nick be talking man, You know sometimes Nick is one of those guys you kind of just pick some stuff he's saying and you're like, alright. But most of the time Nick is just like a fly. You just like shoo him away all the time, and he's always in your ear," Clarkson said good-naturedly. "It's going to be good to see him and play against him, especially after the times we had in LA and stuff like that."