The race isn’t given to the swift. It is given to those who endure to the end. It’s too early in the NBA regular season to say who will do what by the time conference championships and NBA Finals roll around. But the Clippers hope to stick around this time. This is why the team went out and snagged Doc Rivers as their coach.
The Clippers have two of the most explosive players in the league in forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan. Besides that, point guard Chris Paul gives the Clippers one of the best players around in the NBA. Guard J.J. Redick has been shooting lights out since the start of the season. Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes are the regular contributors.
The Clippers have the right mix to make a push deep into the postseason. But then again, in the last couple of years the talent has been there. The difference, of course, is the hiring of Rivers. Rivers is widely acknowledged as of one of the coveted coaches in the NBA. He has a championship pedigree.
He is revered as a player’s coach. So now the question becomes is how far will the Clippers go? We pretty much know that means getting past the first round of the NBA playoffs, which they failed to do last season with Vinny Del Negro guiding the ship.
This is a new season. The Clippers have a bit of a swag going on now Will the Clippers celebrate at the end of the season? Now that Rivers is holding court in Los Angeles, what will the Clippers do? That is perhaps one of the most intriguing questions around the team. The Clippers haven’t been known as a defensive team.
Their reputation the last couple of years after decades of mediocrity have been one of flash and dash. It’s been entertaining but the team hasn’t been close to getting a sniff of that championship cigar. Dunks and spectacular plays are fine, but getting it on done on the boards and playing lockup defense is what matters when everything is all said and done.
The challenge for Rivers, who has coached for years in the Eastern Conference, is adapting to the speed tempo of teams in the Western Conference. Everyone knows that Rivers is a defensive guru so it would be interesting to see what type of defensive strategy he intends to deploy game in and game out during the season. There are still teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurts that will give the Clippers all that they can handle. The Nets did it.
For awhile against the Brooklyn Nets during a recent home game at Staples Center, the Clippers didn’t seem to know what to do with a team that was minus four of their top players in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. The Nets hung around and hung around like a nasty mosquito waiting to be swatted.
Thanks to a dominate performance by Blake Griffin and lights out shooting from the perimeter by Redick, the Clippers escaped with a win. To Rivers, that is all that mattered.