With the NBA playoffs almost among us, each of the sixteen teams who will eventually make up the post season will have dreams of going all the way and be crowned the NBA Champions of this season. Of course for some this is still merely a pipe dream, while for others it is the absolute end goal, with any other result deemed a failure. With that in mind we take a quick and lighthearted look at how each team can potentially do once the playoffs start.
Why They Can Win It All
When you’re two deep at every position and have two of the top ten players in the league in your starting five, you’re bound to be feeling pretty confident. This is the position the Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in, with All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin running the show. This is very much an all in team, and their current win total of fifty-five is not to be sniffed at either.
This team can play with the best of them, and has one of the most enjoyable and free flowing offences in the league. When you’re second unit boasts potential sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford (Who may miss some of the playoffs through injury), sharpshooter J.J. Reddick and floor general Darren Collison, the starters can afford to relax once they go to the bench. In fact, it is that depth which could seem them go all the way to the finals this year. No other team can boast the spoils of grabbing solid contributors Danny Granger and Glen Davis at the trade deadline either, making this team solid right the way through to the minimal role players. Really we could talk about the depth all day, but Griffin himself has had a massive year, carrying this team when Paul was not around through injury.
CP3 himself is the best point guard in the game, capable of leading this team pretty much anywhere. To prove their worth, just look at their player efficiency ratings for this team. The league average is fifteen, and yet Griffin’s PER is 23.8 while Paul’s an even more impressive 25.9, DeAndre Jordan could do more, but he too is proving massively important for the Clippers. Really there is not much not to like about this team, who are into the playoffs for the third straight season for the first time since moving to Los Angeles.
Why They Might Exit Early
Let’s not go crowning them champions so quickly though. This team has a habit of letting teams hang around in games, often playing to the ability of the team they are facing. This means weaker teams have given the Clippers trouble this season, and they have let some games slip away that they really shouldn’t have. Evidence of this exists in the fact that the Clippers allow opponents to score 100.8 points a game, good for fourteenth most in the league.
This middle of the road defending will be found out pretty quickly and so is a concern for the team. Last year’s first round exit still haunts this team, and they are desperate to put that right. What is a concern though, is that they don’t have the look of champions, and appear beatable. Injuries are another big concern, with Paul, Reddick and Crawford spending considerable time on the treatment table already this year. An injury to a key guy might not be so bad given the depth, but if it is to one of either Griffin, Paul or Jordan, the whole ship begins to tilt uncomfortably towards the brink. There just seems to be something soft about this club, they look like they themselves don’t even believe they can win it all right now. That needs to change quickly.
DeAndre Jordan. Dude is a monster in the paint who snatches rebounds, is athletic enough to get on the end of put backs and shows a nice tough around the rim. You could argue he is the best center in this league, it’s just that he doesn’t show us this on a nightly basis. Averaging 13.8 rebounds a game this year is both a career high and a massive number as well. His 10.4 points are a nice contribution for somebody who is a third option on this team, but this becomes all the more impressive as he is shooting .674% from the field. So not only is this guy getting a ton of rebounds, he is taking a lot of high percentage shots too. An underrated aspect of his game too is the one steal a game he is also averaging. Those kind of defensive chops on a big man like Jordan prove that he is doing the little things as well to help his team pile up the W’s.
How They’ll Do
If the Clippers run into the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors or Portland Trail Blazers early on, which is likely, they may struggle. If their opponents can turn this into a dog fight or steal a game at Staples Center, those seeds of doubt will once more be planted in the minds of Los Angeles. Come through an early test well however, and these guys are capable of bumping off the Oklahoma City Thunder with their superior depth, and the San Antonio Spurs with their legs. Do that and they could very well go all the way then. Don’t forget, this team boasts head coach Doc Rivers as well, somebody who is able to inspire his team to greater heights in crunch time.