With their win against the Sacramento Kings in the season finale the Los Angeles Clippers secured the 4th seed in the Western Conference. They also won the home-court advantage for their first round opponents, the Memphis Grizzlies.
This was the ideal way for LA to finish the regular season, the best in their franchise history. Everything is set right now for that success to continue to the postseason. The Clippers now have their whole roster – finally – available as the Playoffs begin.
Chauncey Billups recently returned to the lineup. With his experience he can be a great factor to complement the star duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and assist on making plays. Throughout the season Vinnie Del Negro’s team has shown that it has a perfect balance between the first unit and the reserves. Players like Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler and Matt Barnes can provide the veteran presence needed in any team when the ball gets heavier and every detail counts. This is another essential factor that could make the difference between a win and a loss in the Playoffs.
In the first round the Clips will face the Memphis Grizzlies. The two teams played against each other again in the first leg last year. That time the Grizzlies had the home court advantage but LA won the series. Also, they just recently beat Memphis during their latest regular season meeting, on the 13th of April. With this win the Clippers sealed the season series, 3-1.
Things now are a bit different from last year for both teams. First of all, the Grizzlies changed the core of their team with the movement of Rudy Gay. Especially the offense has shaken up after that trade. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph take now more load in scoring, supported by Conley.
Also, the Clippers look like a much more complete and mature team this season. They were dangerous last year. However, this season LA has proven to be lethal when they are able to reach their top level of performance and retaining their fast-paced offense. Chris Paul is having one of his most productive seasons of his career, not statistically but in the aspects of leading his team and making things easier for his teammates. His matchup against Mike Conley will be key for both teams and could turn the scale in one team’s favor. LA’s frontcourt will also have to play hard against Gasol and Randolph and limit their chances for easy hoops.
There’s no doubt that Clippers fans should be excited. Finally they have the chance to celebrate their first Division Title and see their team finish in the top 4 in the Western Conference. Also, this could be one of the few seasons in franchise history that there are vital chances for LA to win a Championship. Their Playoff course shall determine if they are deservedly considered as the bosses of the City of Angels or their success this season was circumstantial.
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