The core group of the Clippers are back for another shot at redemption. And with that comes experience and a continuity that few teams in the league have, especially ones with multiple All-NBA players filling out their rosters.
But will it be enough to change the trajectory of what has been disappointment after disappointment in the post-season? Before we take a look at the future, let’s look at the painful playoff knockouts that this core has endured over the last three years…
Despite all the choke jobs and devastating injuries in the post-season, the Clippers have been able to find themselves as one the of top regular season teams year after year. Last year the Clippers finished with a record of 53-29 placing them second in their division and fourth in the Western Conference. Last year, the Clippers’ offensive and defensive ratings saw slight drop-offs for the first time under the “CP3 Era.” That could easily be attributed to Blake Griffin missing 47 games last season due to multiple quad injuries and an idiotic fight with friend and trainer, Matias Testi. For the Clippers to have any chance of improvement this season, they will need Blake to show glimpses of his 2014-15 playoff run when he was averaging 25.5- 12.5-6.1.
This will be the fourth year that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, JJ Redick, and Jamal Crawford will try and take the Clippers franchise to a deep playoff run. With limited cap-space, Doc Rivers elected to re-sign Wesley Johnson and Austin Rivers while adding Marreese Speights, Raymond Felton, and Alan Anderson to give more depth to an inconsistent bench. While the bench may have more depth than years prior, questions still remain about the efficiency of Raymon Felton and whether we finally see sixth man of the year and the ageless wonder, Jamal Crawford, lose a couple steps in his game.
Luc Mbah a Moute is the likely starter at the small forward position again this year. Though this position is likely to be held by a variety of different Clippers throughout the year. There has even been reports of Austin Rivers getting into that rotation, despite being vastly undersized. If Johnson or Anderson can showcase solid 3 PT shooting while not being a liability on defense, the small forward position is theirs for the taking.
The Clippers will again find themselves in a distant second place behind the Warriors in the Pacific Division while grabbing the number three spot in the Western Conference. Just like years before, I will be again putting money on them getting to the conference finals.
I will probably never see that money ever again.
But, if I am right…then the Clippers’ run will end in a six game battle against the Warriors and potentially send Blake Griffin and Chris Paul back to the locker room for what might be their last game playing on the same team. With CP3’s championship clock rapidly ticking, it will be awfully hard to convince the pending free agent to stay in LA only to try and beat the Goliath that are now the Warriors for years to come.