After reading this title, I am sure you laughed out loud and thought, “He’s just another bandwagon fan who enjoys the trio of Blake Griffin, CP3, and DeAndre Jordan.” Well, contrary to this belief, I am a loyal Clipper fan of 17 years, and a firm believer in the Clippers’ superiority over the Lakers; they have claimed Los Angeles as their city.
“But the Lakers have 16 banners hanging on the wall! How many do the Clippers have?” Ok, that’s great; I’ll concede the fact that the Lakers have the second most championships in the NBA behind the Boston Celtics. However, their last one was five years ago, and at the rate that Kobe Bryant is sucking up salary cap room, the Lakers won’t be seeing the playoffs for at least three more years. Bryant’s two-year, $48.5-million deal isn’t complete until 2016 – and he is only 36. Knowing Bryant, he will probably aim for another couple of years in the NBA, forcing the Lakers to shell out money for a player far past his prime and making it impossible for them to sign another younger big name.
Meanwhile, the Clippers navigated their way through the nightmare of last year’s Donald Sterling scandal, and have built a brilliant front office tandem featuring owner Steve Ballmer and the head coach of basketball operations, Doc Rivers. Rivers is one of only four active coaches with a ring (as a coach), so he knows what moves to make on and off the court to make a championship roster.
Everybody has said that the 2015 Los Angeles Clippers are not a championship-ready team mainly due to their lack of bench production. Center Spencer Hawes has been under-producing, and the Clippers lack depth at the small forward position. However, in their first round playoff matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, the Clippers’ bench has stepped up. The coach’s son, Austin Rivers, scored 16 points in Game 4, and shooting guard Jamal Crawford is healthy and back in his sixth man form.
I have one specific point to make about the Clippers being L.A.’s team that I just need to get off my mind. Despite Hollywood and all the celebrities, I consider Los Angeles to be mostly a blue collar town, a place where people make their way from the bottom up. The Clippers are the definition of blue collar, a team that does not reel in as much money as the Lakers, but still manage to run a successful program. The Lakers make $150 million off their television deal alone, yet this season, they cannot find a way to make things work. The Clippers do not need flamboyance and attention, and they are perfectly fine with working hard and flying under the radar.
Finally, we get to the Clippers vs. Spurs series that is currently underway. Las Vegas gave San Antonio a 59% chance of winning and the rest of the world would most likely agree with that, but the Clippers are looking forward to proving the rest of the world wrong (and most of LA).
Home-court advantage is key in what is now an even series. Staples Center has been the subject of some heat in the media during the regular season due to fans not being as loud as they are at other stadiums, such as the fans of Golden State or Toronto. (Let me just say, if I could afford the tickets, I would be there every night.) However, when the playoffs come around, Staples Center lights up, Clipper Darrell gets the fans going, and there are not many fan bases much louder than the Los Angeles Clippers’.
I predict that the Clippers will win this series against the Spurs in seven games. After that, the Clippers will handle the Houston Rockets in six games, where they will move on to the franchise’s first ever Western Conference Finals to face the Golden State Warriors. Home court will be key in that series, as the Warriors were 39-2 at home in the regular season, but they showed signs of vulnerability at home against the Pelicans.
After the Clippers win the Western Conference Finals in a tough seventh game at The Oracle Arena, they will move on to The Finals against one of two teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers, or the Chicago Bulls. This series will be easier for the Clippers than the Warriors series, as the Cavs might be without Kevin Love, and the Bulls always seem to be playing with injuries. Either way, the Clippers match up well with both teams, and they will win that series in six games to win their first ever championship and win Los Angeles.