Los Angeles Clippers Playoff Preview; First Round vs. Portland Trail Blazers
With the 2016 NBA Playoffs set to begin on Saturday, let’s take a look at this year’s Los Angeles Clippers Playoff Preview.
No team is coming into the NBA playoffs hotter than the Los Angeles Clippers. If the Los Angeles Clippers expect to get past a team like the Portland Trail Blazers, who currently hold that slot in the standings, they’re going to need to come in as prepared as possible.
For the third year in a row, the Clippers have home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
In their last ten games, Los Angeles boasts a 9-1 record, with their last two losses coming to Oklahoma City and Golden State on the road. Los Angeles has also had much-needed consistency from players like Jamal Crawford, who has continued to cement himself as the best sixth man in the league. Blake Griffin‘s return will help them as well, but if they begin to depend too much on Griffin’s input, they’ll fall back into where they were with him absent.
Overall, the absence of Griffin was managed relatively well on the court, with the team earning its fourth straight 50-win season and the 4-seed in the Western Conference. Chris Paul was magnificent in the second half of the season, Redick and Jordan both reached stardom and Jamal Crawford has scored 16 points a game on 42% from the field since Christmas (when Griffin originally went out).
Some of the minor off-season acquisitions, such as Pablo Prigioni, Wes Johnson and Cole Aldrich, contributed in big ways. Austin Rivers picked up right where he left off in last year’s playoffs and even Luc Richard Mbah a Moute–the guy who got the last spot in training camp–earned a starting job for much of the year with his defensive play.
The newest Clipper in the rotation, Jeff Green, has been inconsistent at times with 11 points per game in his 26 appearances; he’ll have a big role in the playoffs.
Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan
Chris Paul has handled his usual load as the team leader and point guard, but this season may require something different from him in order to make a deeper run than years prior. Having Paul Pierce around should boost the team’s chemistry, but it’ll be ultimately decided on how much emphasis or fire Chris Paul brings to the table.
DeAndre Jordan has pitched in around 12 points per game this season, with his main contribution coming in the rebounding category with an average of 13 per contest. Jordan’s presence on the boards should — emphasis on should — help balance out the expectations we place on Blake Griffin.
Playing the villain in the Western Conference is tailor-made for the Los Angeles Clippers, but it’s simply a matter of time before we’ll know for sure if the slipper fits. If there were any coach trying to lead this type of basketball team, it would have to be Doc Rivers. The Clippers and Trail Blazers matchup will be a great one to watch.
(Los Angeles Clippers Playoff Preview)