Tag Archives: Doc Rivers

LA Clippers Chris Paul

Can Chris Paul avoid another early round exit

The Clippers seem to have all of the pieces to win it all; the best point guard in the league, an unstoppable force, and an experienced proven leader. But can Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Doc Rivers avoid another early round exit?

Chris Paul & Blake GriffinChris Paul has been the best point guard in the league for quite some time now, but his lack of playoff success has hindered his greatness. For the first portion of his career, he carried what was a mediocre team at best in the New Orleans Hornets to an eventual three playoff appearances. They had some pieces in Tyson Chandler and David West, but were never regarded as a legit team that could win it all. Expectations changed for Chris when he was traded to the Clippers and “Lob City” was formed.

The Clippers already had a rising star in Blake Griffin and an athletic beast at center in DeAndre Jordan, along with solid role and bench players. But, when Chris Paul arrived the Clippers felt he was the missing piece needed to make a legitimate title run. “Lob City” ended up winning 40 games in a lockout shortened season and were the 5 seed heading into the playoffs matched up in the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies. They struggled in 7 games against the Griz and then got ousted by the San Antonio Spurs in 4. The argument could be made that the team didn’t necessarily gel because Paul would have ideally needed a full season with the team in order to truly get an assessment of how good they could really be.

The 2012 campaign featured the Clippers finishing the season with 56 wins and the 4 seed overall in the West. A rematch against the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t go quite as well as it did the first time around as they ended up losing to Z-Bo and Marc in 6 games. This early playoff exit eventually got head coach Vinny Del Negro fired and the acquisition of Doc Rivers took place. Now, the best point guard in the league and one of the most exciting players in the league finally had a coach capable of leading them to the Finals. So, now the coach excuse goes out the window.

Los Angeles ClippersDespite the greatness that Doc Rivers brought to the table, the Clippers would surely avoid another early round exit, right? Well, they didn’t. Another tough playoff ended with a semifinal loss, this time to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Some of the issues could be attributed to the Donald Sterling saga, but when is enough, enough? The excuses for Chris Paul have to come to an end. His numbers and moxie may establish him as the greatest point guard of our time, but he will never be remembered until he gets over the playoff hump. With new ownership, will this finally be the year Chris Paul proves doubters wrong?

Chris M.

Predictions for the Los Angeles Clippers lineup next season

Clippers 2014-2015

CLIPPERS

The Los Angeles Clippers have done a few changes in their roster up to now but the core of the team remains the same as the 2013 – 2014 campaign. The Clips will enter the upcoming season as one of the strongest favorites for the title. So, which will be the starting lineup of the team? Let’s break down.

Point Guard

Chris Paul CP3

CP3

There’s no question about who the starting point guard of the Clips will be. Chris Paul will be the starter and as long as he stays healthy, he will be Lob City’s facilitator. Last season we saw the Clips using Darren Collison as their starting point guard during the time CP3 was down with an injury. However, after Paul’s return, Collison was switched back to the backup role.

Shooting guard
Another position in which Doc Rivers had to use a backup player as a starter is the shooting guard spot. Jamal Crawford took over for the Clips due to J.J. Redick’s injury. Nonetheless, Redick returned back healthy and he will be LA’s starter at the spot next season. With that said, Crawford will play the role he knows best, he will be the sixth man of the team.

Small forward
The small forward position is the least deadly in the Clippers’ starting lineup. Lob City has been trying to upgrade this spot since the free agency commenced but up to now, it has found no success. Paul Pierce was rumored to show interest in the Clippers and a few other names were thrown on the table. As it now seems, Matt Barnes will be the starting small forward for the Clippers once again. Barnes is a very effective player although he doesn’t put up huge numbers. He is also a terrific perimeter defender.

LA Clippers Blake Griffin deserves respect

Griffin

Power forward
Paul’s fellow superstar, Blake Griffin, will of course be a starter, too. Griffin recorded a terrific season in 2013 – 2014, taking advantage of CP3’s absence. This was the season Griffin saw an increase in almost any aspect of his game. Next season, he is projected to come back even stronger, better and more ready to lead his team to the top of the NBA. The truth is that Griffin has been criticized for his explosive character and his lack of focus when the game is on the line and especially in the playoffs. Nonetheless, in Year 1 of his cooperation with Doc Rivers, Griffin saw a significant improvement in that area, too. So, next season, he is expected to be even more mature and better poised.

Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Deandre Blake

Center
DeAndre Jordan was counted in as the third superstar of the Clips by Doc Rivers last season. And he will be LA’s starting center in 2014 – 2015. Jordan emerged as one of the top defending big men in the league last season and he also saw major improvement in many aspects of his game. Thankfully, the Clips will now have a quality big man on their bench, Spencer Hawes, who will be able to back up Jordan and Griffin, too.



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BY: Chris M.

Are The Clippers Poised For No.1 Next Season

Clippers 2014-2015

CLIPPERS

The Los Angeles Clippers have still not sorted out their ownership situation. Steve Ballmer is the person who will most probably be next owner of the team, hopefully next season, but Donald Sterling is not giving up the fight just yet. Assuming that the ownership situation will be sorted out by the beginning of the 2014 – 2015 campaign, the Los Angeles Clippers will be one of the strongest teams entering the upcoming season. But are they really the favorites for the championship? In other words, how far can they really go?

The answer is unknown. And that’s not mainly due to the ownership instability. It’s not even about the assets Lob City possesses, its roster and the way it plays. It’s because we currently have absolutely no clue how the competition will shape up next season. We don’t know where megastars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will play next season and as a result, we don’t know which teams will highlight the top spots when it comes to championship contention.

Blake Griffin Chris Paul

BLAKE & CHRIS

Nevertheless, what we do know, again assuming that the ownership situation gets resolved, is that the Los Angeles Clippers possess a superb roster and one of the best head coaches in the league. They do have two All-Stars, in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, an emerging star center, in DeAndre Jordan, the Sixth Man of the Year 2014, Jamal Crawford and several other quality role players. And of course, this entire group is orchestrated by Doc Rivers, who seems to be a head coach capable of leading Lob City to the top of the NBA.

Lob City LA Clippers

Lob City

At the moment, apart from the Oklahoma City and the San Antonio Spurs, who will be one year older, there is no team which seems to stand better chances to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. And even the OKC Thunder are not looking that lethal. In fact, unless the Thunder makes some changes in their style of play and become more of a team rather than a two – headed “beast”, which heavily relies on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they seem anything but invincible.

Blake Griffin LA Clippers Super Star

GRIFFIN

This summer offseason might be one that includes lots of star movement but it might also be a very silent one. But even if we see LeBron, Carmelo and other big name players like Luol Deng and Pau Gasol changing teams, the Clippers will hold the advantage. This group has been together for three years now and they have now managed to develop their game. Especially since the arrival of Doc Rivers last summer, Lob City further improved its game and reached a championship – contending level. The Clips fell short against OKC in the Western Semis but be certain that they will come back even stronger next season.

There is not much of room for changes for the Clips this summer. The Clips have most of their core players under contract for the upcoming season and we can only expect a few correcting moves, unless a major surprise occurs. But this roster, this group seems to have enough to make it to the top and the upcoming season will give a big opportunity for Lob City to eventually celebrate its first title.

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BY: Chris M.

Clippers Look To 2014-2015

Clippers 2014-2015

CLIPPERS

Despite of all the changes and additions the Los Angeles Clippers did to start this season, they didn’t go much further than one more round in the playoffs, comparing to their 2012-2013 course. Lob City fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder after six games in the Western Semis and those championship dreams will have to wait for at least another year. But can the Clips really stay at the top next season? Will they really be championship contenders?

First and foremost, the ownership issue will have to be resolved. It might be a long and tough process for the Clipper Nation but it’s also a necessary one. Only after Donald Sterling is removed from the owner’s position can the team truly focus on its ultimate goal for the upcoming season but also for the ones to come after that.

Assuming that the league and the people taking care of the issue eventually find a solution, the Los Angeles Clippers can start building their future. And of course, you might wonder, they do have a great team even now, right? So do they really need to plan on the future or just the upcoming season?
As head coach Doc Rivers stated after the elimination in Game 6, this is not the end. This is the beginning.

Clippers Blake Griffin Chris Paul

Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have one of the greatest and most powerful star cores in the NBA. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are under contract at least for the next three seasons, J.J. Redick is in the books until the end of the 2016 – 2017 season, Jamal Crawford for one season less and DeAndre Jordan will be with the team at least for the next season. Doc Rivers was also signed in a long term contract and assuming that Donald Sterling will be removed prior to the start of the 2014 – 2015 season, he will have no reason to not use up his contract.

Of course, we might see the Clippers performing a few moves during the offseason to try and find those missing pieces, those players who can further increase their chances to seriously contend for the title next season. But the team’s core will be the same. When it comes to changes in the style of play, Chris Paul might want to eventually start utilizing and trusting Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan more. As Rivers stated through the season, Jordan has superstar potential and if the Paul manages to find a way to utilize him more, he could emerge as the third pillar in the superstar line of the Clips.

LA Clippers Tickets

CLIPPERS

If the Los Angeles Clippers achieves what they did in Year 1 under Doc Rivers and after all they went through during the last month, it will be really interesting to see how far this team can go. The Clips improved in almost every aspect of their game this season both as a team and as individuals and they are projected to continue getting better.
The Los Angeles Clippers are here to stay.

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BY: Chris M.

Who Will Coach The Lakers?

LA Lakers New Coach

?

Mike D’Antoni confirmed the inevitable on Thursday by resigning as the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. In a national NBA news cycle that’s been dominated by the Donald Sterling controversy the Lakers were once again, briefly, the story nationally. Finishing out of the playoffs with another potential season of rebuilding upcoming, the Lakers now have to find a head coach to replace D’Antoni that can restore success in Lakerland while ushering the team into a new era. Several names have been bandied about already, with the two coaches who faced off against each other in the recent NCAA title game at the top of the list. Kevin Ollie and John Calipari seem to be the two most talked about candidates, but there will be others. The next Lakers coach will be a big decision and the franchise needs to correct the mistakes they made during the previous two hires of Mike Brown and D’Antoni. Now more than ever, it’s essential that the Lakers reclaim their place among Southern California NBA fans.

LA Clippers Vs Spurs

DOC

One big reason the next hire is important is the direct result of the Donald Sterling controversy. When NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the decision to fine Sterling $2.5 million and push to force him to sell the team he not only created a big sigh of relief among Clippers fans, he also created a scenario where the Clippers popularity could potentially explode. For the last thirty seasons under Sterling’s ownership the Clippers had been a disaster of a franchise. Poor decisions, poor luck and a bad owner created a franchise with little success, a punching bag for many nationally and an easy win for the cross-town Lakers. Prior to coming to the STAPLES Center the Clippers played in front of sparse crowds at the Los Angeles Sports Arena as they typically finished at the bottom of the division. In the last few years, despite Sterling, the Clippers have become a Western Conference power behind the play of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and, this season, the tutelage of Doc Rivers. This recent success has always been despite Sterling, not because of Sterling.

Now with Sterling potentially out of the picture the Clippers suddenly have reached a higher level of awareness nationally. They’ve become a feel-good story with several high profile figures being discussed as potential bidders for the franchise. These names include Magic Johnson and Oprah Winfrey, as well as Oracle Corporation founder Larry Ellison. Ellison, worth $50 billion, put in a losing bid to buy the Golden State Warriors five-years ago. Ellison has the money and some potential high-profile partners in Winfrey and David Geffen. Suddenly, should someone like Ellison buy the team, the Clippers have the potential to emerge as a much more popular franchise both in Southern California and nationally.

Los Angeles Lakers Tickets

COACH WANTED

This brings us back to the Lakers. Due to their incredible history the Lakers will never become Los Angeles’s “other” team, but they do risk losing part of the casual fan base or emerging fans to the STAPLES Center rivals. The Clippers are a talented bunch who should contend for the foreseeable future, while the Lakers are likely to struggle again next season. For these reasons it’s essential the Lakers make the right choice in who they hire as their next head coach. Both Ollie and Calipari, if they are the top choices, are interesting options. The big question is whether or not Ollie and Calipari are the right choices to help attract potential free agents and maximize success out of the roster.
Whoever the next head coach of the Lakers is, he’ll have a big job on his hands.Chris M

Let the Clippers Vs Warriors Playoffs Begin

Clippers Vs Warriors Tickets

CLIPPERS Vs WARRIORS

In one of the most eagerly anticipated first round playoff series the Los Angeles Clippers will face the Golden State Warriors in the opening round of the NBA’s Western Conference playoffs, starting Saturday at STAPLES Center Saturday, with game two scheduled for STAPLES Center on Monday night. The Warriors, who finished sixth in the Western Conference playoff standings, were dealt a major blow this past week when starting center Andrew Bogut suffered a fractured rib.

The Clippers are coming off of their second consecutive Pacific Division title and the top record in team history. After a disappointing exit at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies in last season’s playoffs the Clippers, with Doc Rivers at the helm, enter the playoffs with high expectations. The Clippers success has created major expectations in Los Angeles that the team is primed for a finals run. When star point guard Chris Paul went down with an injury early this year, power forward Blake Griffin took his game to the next level, garnering attention as a potential dark horse MVP candidate. In Paul and Griffin the Clippers have two established superstars, arguably two of the top ten players in the NBA. With the return of JJ Redick the Clippers are also healthy for the first time in several months, with the entire starting lineup intact.

The series will be defined by the point guard matchup between Chris Paul and Warriors superstar fourth-year forward Stephon Curry. Curry has nearly unlimited range and along with Klay Thompson forms the premier shooting backcourt in the NBA. Curry, arguably the best three point shooter in the history of the NBA, is the catalyst for the Warriors offense, constantly pushing the basketball with the ability to score from the outside and in transition.

Clippers Vs Warriors Tickets

CLIPPERS Vs WARRIORS

Due to Golden State’s unique home court advantage at Oracle Arena it’s important for the Clippers to get off to a fast start at STAPLES Center, not letting the Warriors steal a game before the series heads to the Bay Area. With Bogut out due to injury the Clippers will have an advantage inside with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Veteran Jermaine O’Neal will be forced to play extra minutes alongside David Lee inside. Lee is already a weakness on the defensive end, and the Warriors interior defense will suffer mightily without Bogut, who is a strong presence on the boards and as a shot blocker. The Clippers extraordinary depth, which includes Matt Barnes, Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley and Danny Granger off the bench gives them depth advantage. If they can exploit their depth through an up-tempo style they should be able to offset the firepower of Curry and Thompson.

Prediction: The loss of Bogut will have a major impact on the series. The big Aussie is a major presence inside and the Warriors interior defense will suffer without him. The Clippers tremendous overall depth, as well as the coaching of Doc Rivers, should overwhelm the Warriors. Clippers in five.

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BY: Chris M.

Who will be the sixth man for the LA Clippers in the playoffs?

The Los Angeles Clippers are looking to enter the playoffs strong. With Blake Griffin playing at an MVP level and with Chris Paul at his best, the entire Clipper Nation is optimistic that this will be year the Clips will make it to the top. But who will be the most significant role player for Doc Rivers’s group during the playoffs? Who will be the sixth man?

One names comes in my mind when I hear the phrase “sixth man” and that’s no other than Jamal Crawford.

The 34-year old veteran guard won the Sixth Man of the Year award back in 2010 and he is set to win it again this year. He has been exception all season long and especially during the time Chris Paul was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Crawford is putting up 18.4 points per contest this season and I expect him to continue putting up points in bunches during the postseason.

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DOC

Of course, Doc Rivers has more than one weapons to line up against any potential opponent. The Clips hope to have their entire roster available during the postseason, right from Game 1. Danny Granger, who is currently out with a hamstring injury is set to return to action. The 30-year old forward hasn’t been a big factor in the 12 games he appeared with the Clippers uniform, after he was brought in LA. Nonetheless, thanks to his veteran experience he could be a key for the Clips in the postseason. Granger can space the floor thus opening the lanes to Chris Paul, Crawford and also give more space to Griffin to work close to the basket. The playoffs are the reason why Lob City decided to acquire Granger in the first place.

Clippers JJ Redick

REDICK

Another role player who could prove out to be a big factor in the Clippers’ championship course is J.J. Redick. The 29-year old guard played in just 35 games up to now in the season due to back injury and he instantly made his presence felt. If there was one thing the Clips tried to improve this offseason that’s team three-point shooting. J.J. Redick adds up to the team’s firepower from beyond the arc. Thankfully, Redick now seems to be ok and his 12.4 points per game average over the last five games show exactly that. The sharpshooting guard has to play big for the Clips during the postseason.

Finally, Darren Collison and Matt Barnes will have to contribute, too, during the playoffs. However, none of them has shown up to now in the season that he can be the true sixth man for the Clips. Certainly, Collison was reliable when CP3 was out. Nevertheless, unless Paul suffers an injury once again during the playoffs, Collison’s role will be limited to the backup point guard. Barnes, on the other hand earned the starting job midway through the season with Jared Dudley sliding to the bench. However, his role can be characterized as supportive rather than a sixth-man-type one.

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Clippers Vs Warriors

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BY: Chris M.

JJ Redick Factor In Clippers Postseason

Clippers JJ Redick

REDICK

Can J.J. Redick be a factor for the Los Angeles Clippers during the postseason?
The Los Angeles Clippers will need all their weapons lined up come playoff time. Of course, Lob City appears to be very powerful this season and most ready than ever to contend for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Although there are some true powerhouses in the West, which the Clips will have to try hard to top, I strongly believe that if Head Coach Doc Rivers has all pieces available, this will be the Clips’ year.

Talking about pieces of the puzzle and their availability, one of the Clippers’ newcomers this season, shooting guard J.J. Redick just returned to action, after missing a big chunk of the season due to an abdominal injury. Redick returned to action on Thursday, April 4, in a game against the Dallas Mavericks, after missing 36 games this season. Of course, Redick was rusty during his first couple of games, following his comeback. Especially in Thursday’s game against the Mavs, when he played for 24 games, he finished with 12 points, going three for 10 from the floor and two for six from beyond the arc. This was an uncharacteristic output for the 29 – year old guard.

However, Redick made sure he bounced back in the Clippers’ next game. Playing again for 24 minutes during the Clips’ battle against the (former) city-rivals, Los Angeles Lakers, he shot 63.3 percent from the field and a little over than 33 percent from three-point range. Redick finished with 15 points and three rebounds but this wasn’t the most aspect of his game. What was most significant is that he showed positive signs, sings that Doc Rivers but also the entire Clipper Nation was able to see.

JJ Redick

REDICK

There are five more games left till the end of the regular season, in which J.J. Redick will have to find his rhythm and pace. If he manages to return to a level close to the one he was prior to his injury, he will certainly be a big factor for the Clippers during the playoffs. After all, the sharpshooter is fourth leading scorer for LA this season, putting up 15.5 points per contest. He is also one of the best shooters the team has, from mid and long range.

But if you look closer at the way the team is playing, you’ll realize that Redick’s contribution goes above and beyond just shooting. In fact, thanks to his lethal shooting ability, defense always has to pay close attention to him. That gives more space to CP3 and Blake Griffin to operate and work their magic. And that makes the team much more dangerous.

Hopefully, Redick will retain a high level of performance during the postseason and hopefully Doc Rivers will have all his players available, right from Game 1 of the first round. After all, the competition level is extremely high in the West this season and not even the first-round matchup won’t be easy. Chris M.

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Should the Lakers Pursue Kevin Ollie?

UCONN Kevin Ollie

Kevin Ollie

Writing in the New York Times columnist Eric Pincus wrote a compelling piece on whether the Lakers could target University of Connecticut Head Coach Kevin Ollie as a potential replacement for Mike D’Antoni. With the Lakers mired at the bottom of the Western Conference and at least another year of rebuilding ahead of them, should the Lakers make a move for Ollie?

Mike D’Antoni is a lame duck coach. Even if he does coach the Lakers next season it’s hard to imagine D’Antoni keeping his job beyond next season. The Lakers have battled injuries all season, but have also shown the negative characteristics of previous D’Antoni coached teams, mainly the inability to play defense. With a high draft pick in the coming draft the Lakers may choose to move on a candidate like Ollie to inject some life into the franchise and maximize the Lakers upcoming draft pick. The former Connecticut star and now head coach is from Los Angeles, playing his high school basketball at Crenshaw High School. In just two seasons in Connecticut he’s capably replaced a legend in Jim Calhoun and has the Huskies playing for yet another National Title on Monday night versus the Kentucky Wildcats.

Kevin Ollie UCONN

Kevin Ollie (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Ollie is compelling not because of his coaching resume, which is impressive albeit with limited head coaching experience. What makes Ollie compelling is his reputation around the league, especially from current Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. As Pincus pointed, out Ollie received major accolades from Durant during a recent interview with Bill Simmons. Durant called Ollie at “game-changer” for his impact on the culture of Oklahoma City during their evolution as a contender in the west. It’s a big stretch to think that the presence of Ollie would draw Durant to Los Angeles, but is indicative of Ollie’s reputation around the league. Durant pointed to the mind-set and professionalism that Ollie brought to the Thunder organization each day.

Would Ollie take the job? Considering his instant success at Connecticut it’s questionable why he would leave the college ranks, but a factor that may impact a decision by Ollie to leave could be Connecticut’s conference situation. The Huskies ended up lost in the shuffle of the conference realignments over the past two seasons and now find themselves in the American Athletic Conference, a far cry from the former Big East they were a member of for over two decades. The American Athletic is far less prestigious than the old Big East and the ACC and could impact Ollie’s decision to stay at Connecticut.

UCONN Kevin Ollie

Coach Ollie

If the Lakers were to attract Ollie it doesn’t guarantee they make a run for Durant but it would satisfy the fan base and potentially usher the Lakers into a new era. A solid draft pick in the offseason and the acquisition of Kevin Love after next season can do wonders for the Lakers near term outlook. How a franchise is perceived nationally can have a major impact on potential free agents, for an example look at the LA Clippers and their decision to replace Vinny Del Negro with Doc Rivers. The presence of Rivers immediately upped the prestige of the Clippers organization and made them a desirable target for a player like Danny Granger when he was amnestied this spring. Ollie can have a similar impact as Rivers with the Lakers. Chris M.

Can The Clippers Beat The Spurs?

Heading down the stretch in the Western Conference playoff race the Los Angeles Clippers are solidly in third place with potential to surpass the Oklahoma City Thunder for second place. Like the first place Spurs the Clippers are peaking at the right time, with victories in 12 of their last 13 games. Following their upcoming five game road trip the Clippers can finish off the season at STAPLES Center, heading into the playoffs with the potential to win as many as 60 games. Now the dominant team in Los Angeles the Clippers head into the postseason with big expectations. With consecutive Pacific Division titles and a loaded roster anything less than a deep run into the Western Conference playoffs would be a disappointment for the franchise. From the acquisition of Doc Rivers to the building of a deep bench the Clippers organization has made the moves necessary to contend for a title. The two teams in the Clippers way, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, are veteran laden clubs with championship pedigree. Both have reached the finals the past two seasons. While the Thunder took a tiny step back with the trade of James Harden and the injury to Russell Westbrook, the Clippers look ready to make the ascent and challenge San Antonio.

Here are five reasons the Clippers will knock off the San Antonio Spurs:

LA Clippers Vs Spurs

DOC & GREG

Doc Rivers: Look no further than San Antonio and Greg Popovich for a perfect example of the impact of head coaching in the NBA. The Spurs are an outstanding organization with multiple future Hall of Famers, but they also have arguably the best head coach in professional sports. In seeking Doc Rivers to replace Vinny Del Negro the Clippers significantly improved at the head coaching position. The presence of Rivers has improved the Clippers significantly on the defensive end of the court. The Clippers are currently 6th in the NBA defensive rankings, giving up just 101.5 points per game and 4th in effective field goal percentage, behind Miami, San Antonio and the Houston Rockets. It’s an old adage that defense wins championships, but the adage holds true in the NBA.

LA Clippers Vs Spurs Tickets

BLAKE

The Evolution of Blake Griffin: In the past three months Blake Griffin has gone from a player that many around the NBA still questioned as an elite star, to a potential MVP candidate. When Chris Paul went down with an injury early in 2014 Griffin went on a tear and carried the team on his back until Paul returned. The former top overall pick is playing the best basketball of his career and will give the Spurs fits in the playoffs. Griffin has turned into the dependable post option that the Clippers need to contend for a title.

Clippers Spurs LA Staples Center

DEANDRE

Youth: Based on the past few seasons the idea of writing off the Spurs due to the age of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili would be a major mistake. Popovich has masterfully managed the roster this season, somehow locking up the likely top overall seed while managing to not play a single player more than 30 minutes per game. This strategy has preserved the legs of veterans Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. The big question is whether or not this regular season strategy can translate to the playoffs. If Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are forced to play big minutes come postseason the Clippers relative depth and youth should be a factor.

The Clippers Bench: Over the past several seasons one of the secrets to the Spurs success has been their bench strength. They’ve done an incredible job finding and developing young talent to play alongside their veteran core. The Clippers bench depth, more than any other team in the Western Conference, rivals that of the Spurs. During the recent trade deadline the Clippers made moves to acquire Glen Davis and Danny Granger, to provide even more assistance to a unit that includes Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Darren Collison and Jared Dudley. As a result the Clippers boast a reserve until every bit as deep as San Antonio.

Spurs Vs LA Clippers

CHRIS

Chris Paul: The secret to the Spurs success over the past five seasons is the play of point guard Tony Parker. While Tim Duncan has taken a secondary role Parker has assumed the role of the go-to player in the lineup. His combination of speed and quickness makes him incredibly hard to guard and helps drive the Spurs offense. In the 28 games the two have played against each other during their NBA careers the matchup has essentially been a standstill. Parker and the Spurs have won 18 of the 28 matchups, largely due to the dominance of the Spurs during Paul’s years with the Hornets. Parker has struggled with nagging injuries the past two seasons and the presence of Paul will make Parker work at both ends of the court, expending important energy on the defensive end.

It would be a giant mistake to write the Spurs off after the dominant regular seasons they’ve had the past two years and the deep playoff run they made in 2013, but Duncan and Ginobili are a year older and their ability to continually answer the bell has to come to an end at some point. The Clippers are peaking at the right time and should have what it takes to upset San Antonio in the Western Conference playoffs.Chris Michaels.

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