Random thoughts on the Los Angeles Clippers heading into the NBA Playoffs
After covering the Clippers this season I have come up with a couple of relevant thoughts
The Clippers are still a work in progress when it comes to leadership. They have the versatile talent on their roster but what they lack are leaders. Chris Paul won’t be able to lead his team every game, so guys need to step up and take some pressure off of Paul. He’s all over the floor trying to make a play. I would like to see Blake Griffin take over some games. They’ll need Blake to take on a leadership role in the playoffs. He has all the mechanics to do it; he’ll just need to build up his confidence.
- 2. 48 minutes of Basketball
It’s getting close to that time, playoff basketball, and if the Clippers want to compete they must play four full quarters of basketball. Lately they have slacking on energy early in the game and not having a sense of urgency to win. They depend on the fourth quarter too much to make a run. Hopefully, guys will come out with a chip on their shoulder and get the job done in the first half. The New Orleans Hornets should not be up by 12 points in the 4th quarter against the Clippers. That is inexcusable. If the boys in blue want to make life easier, the key to success will be to come out striking first.
- 3. Defense
Arguably, defense wins games and most importantly championships. It doesn’t matter how many offensive weapons you have, if you don’t have guys that play defense you will lose. We have witnessed remarkable and vicious nights on the defensive end of the floor from the Clippers, but I would argue more good nights. The Clippers have the ability to go out there every night and tighten up on defense. They need to be more consistent and back each other up on rotations. Also pick up the effort on rebounding. When shots are missed every player needs to hustle for the rebound. For the most, defense has been average but average won’t be enough to survive in the playoffs. I’m hoping to see consistency.
- 4. Bench Production
The Clippers have one of the best second units in the league. I’m not saying that every player that comes off the bench is a superstar, everyone has flaws, but they can produce and possibly hold down the starters while they are resting. Nick Young and Eric Bledsoe are two players Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro can depend on. Reggie Evans can come in and give the second unit an energetic burst. Kenyon Martin will be the guy who can do a little bit of everything for you. Keep an eye on the Clippers bench; they will have a major impact in the playoffs.
- 5. Playoff Prediction
A potential Clippers vs. Grizzlies first-round matchup will be one of the most attractive series in the Western Conference Playoffs. Both teams have firecrackers and players that can come in and give their team a push. I’m hoping the standings remain the same and Memphis and Los Angeles are able to meet in the playoffs. I would love to see a Blake Griffin vs. Zach Randolph faceoff. Even though Griffin is more athletic, Randolph is a blue collar player that has unstoppable talent. His game is very scary. I predict this series to go seven games, with the last game up for grabs.