Los Angeles Clippers Playoff Preview

(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

The Clippers team have had way too many distractions this offseason. There was the signing of Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith which was atrocious. Then you have the Blake Griffin fiasco with his knee issues and the complete blunder by the training staff early on. Then, you have Blake punching someone and in turn breaking his hand. So, needless to say there is a lot going on in Los Angeles. With Chris Paul showcasing his leadership though, the team has powered through the season to a 53-29 record.

J.J. Redick is a major reason for this squad finding a way to power through the season without their 2nd best player being one of the most efficient jump shooters in the game and playing tremendous defense on the other end. Redick is shooting an outstanding 63.2%TS. Redick is having the effect on this team that Kyle Korver had last year on Atlanta. Anytime Redick runs through a screen or catches a ball, he catches every defensive player’s attention and opens up things for everyone else. He has a gravitation pull all the way out on the 3 point line that is unmatched by most in the NBA. If you see here he pulls the defender of the man who screened for him over leaving someone wide open down inside the paint. This kind of fear instilled in a defense is huge.

Then there is Deandre Jordan who has been tremendous this season following Blake’s injury in December. He has been destroying the glass on both ends, scoring efficiently off of being a roll man, being efficient on putbacks, and being the anchor for the defense. He has 11 win shares on the season right under Chris Paul’s 11 and it is worth mentioning how great he has been this year. Having someone who can do something like this is huge.

Jamal Crawford this year has been another reason for the Clippers keeping afloat this year. While many people (myself included) have criticized him for his inefficiency, he has been huge in many games this year in win averaging 15.3 points per game, on 43.3%FG, and 36.2%3PT. Crawford is actually an efficient catch and shoot player and solid playmaker, and if he can find a way to get efficient tries more so than the 20 dribbles then jack up a long 2 pointer thing he does oh so much the Clippers would be in a very good place.

Blake Griffin has played 5 games since coming back from his injury has averaged 10.4 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 4.2 assists per game, and doing so on 40.0% from the field. Of course this can be scary to look at as a Clippers fan, but hopefully he can find his flow or the Clippers could have a lot of issues this postseason. His jumper does not look quite right and he seems timid out on the floor. If he does not find his aggressiveness then the first round and further on could become a major struggle for them. There were questions about whether or not Blake should be traded, which honestly was just stupid in my opinion, but to keep those rumors at bay Blake Griffin needs to bring back what we saw from him last year in the postseason.

Then there is Chris Paul who has been absolutely outstanding this year. It is hard to quantify what he has done for the team this year with his leadership over the team. Then you also have to mention without Paul, Redick and Deandre Jordan do not have the years they are having. He has kept the team looking like a well oiled machine. His statline this year has been 19.5 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 10.0 assists per game, 2.1 steals per game, and doing so on a true shooting percentage of 57.5%. I have him as #3 on my personal MVP list and I have not heard enough about his value to this team this year. His masterful control over the offense feels like prime Peyton Manning down at the line calling audibles after reading the defenses. It is that beautiful to see.

Chris Paul is looking to change his legacy and not be that one guy who could not get out of the 2nd round, Doc Rivers might be on the hot seat if the direction of the team does not change, and Blake Griffin had the trade rumors earlier in the year so, a lot rides on this postseason for the Clippers. They face the Trailblazers who are powered by their backcourt duo, and the Clippers will need to have an answer for it. They won the season series 3-1, but things will go a lot smoother if Blake can be Blake again. I have the Clippers beating the Blazers in 6, but do not get comfortable. This Blazers team can get hot in a hurry and we know what happened last year when the Clippers got too comfortable.

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