The playoffs. Where champions are made and chances are crushed. Where some players step up and some squander under the limelight. And where all the wrong seems to happen to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers have been an NBA organization for 47 years now, and have never made it past the second round in the playoffs. They have dominated the regular season winning over 50 games in each of the past five seasons. But why can they not get over the hump of the playoffs?
Now some unfortunate instances have happened to the Clippers these past two years. Star players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin both suffered season-ending injuries in the first round last year. Once again, the Clippers and Griffin find themselves in a similar place, having their star injured and out for the rest of the playoffs. Clipper fans just can not catch a break.
Two seasons in a row with heartbreaking injuries to their star player. The series is not over, but the absence of Griffin will play an enormous role in the outcome. Averaging 25 points per game in these playoffs, the Clippers will need to fill the empty hole quickly.
The good news is the Clippers are accustomed to playing without Griffin. From December to April of this season, they were able to regroup and find ways to win without him. But this time, it is much different. A hungry Utah Jazz team with no Rudy Gobert, will do whatever they can to capitalize on the loss of Griffin. Especially after playing their first home playoff game in 1,000 days and blowing a double-digit lead in a loss.
Players like J.J. Redick must step up in the absence of Griffin. Redick has struggled averaging 6.3 points per game and shooting 38 percent from the field. This is very unlike Redick who averaged 15 points per game and shot 45 percent for the season. As much as the Clippers need Paul to be spectacular, Paul needs Redick to be on point. If Redick’s shot is falling, the Clippers are a dangerous team.
Their game is best played in the open court, therefore being nicknamed as “Lob City.” Yes I am aware Redick is not capable of backboard breaking dunks, but his threes get them going. If his threes begin to fall, the defense will be forced to over play him on screens. This will eventually lead to more dunks and lobs which opens up the offense.
More importantly, can DeAndre Jordan fill the void of Griffin? He is having an outstanding playoffs so far averaging 15 points per game and 14 rebounds. His defense will prove to be crucial as he is the anchor of the paint.
The defense of the Clippers is the most important because with stops they can get to their bread and butter. Fastbreaks. More stops equals more lobs which equals more wins. Jordan and Redick will be the deciding factors in the Clippers success without Griffin, but there is another key component.
The true point guard Paul will no doubt step up his game without Griffin. Earlier this season, his numbers increased dramatically when Griffin suffered another injury. Paul is familiar with looking to score more than setting up his teammates.
When it is all said and done, the success of the Clippers lies in the hands and mind of Paul. Without him, the Clippers are just another team in the West. Paul elevates them and they will always have a chance with him playing.
As long as Paul, Jordan and Redick stay healthy, the Clippers will advance to the second round. Waiting for them in the next round the team with the best record in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. Good luck Clipper fans.