It is pretty easy to be dismissive of the Los Angeles Clippers. Perhaps more than any other team in any other sport they have been the gold standard for failure and ineptitude. Forty years, the endless seasons of bad playing, bad leadership and bad chemistry has been known to even the casual sports fan. Now, incredibly, they are playing some of the best basketball in the league. How has this come about? There are many factors contributing to the Clippers success this year, but none are so great has the addition of Chris Paul. I believe they have a shot at advancing to the Conference Finals for these reasons:
1, Their bench is has good, and perhaps better, than any team left in the playoffs. The Clippers go four deep into a bench that contributes nearly as well as the starters. Mo Williams, Reggie Evens, Nick Price and Kenyon Martin have all been a significant part of the Clippers season and playoff run. This rotation gives coach Vinnie Del Negro a lot options during a game and lets his starters play a few less minutes.than the other team, a possible reason to their 4th quarter heroics.
2. Matchups. That is, the Clippers are a hard team to match up against. Blake Griffin is an anomaly, a blend of speed, size and strength so unusual it is not possible for one person to guard him. Opposing teams have settled upon a strategy to foul him early and often, (what else can they do?) but it hasn’t worked, Griffin seems to get stronger has the games, and beat downs, go on. . Randy Foye has exceeded everyone expectations after the Chauncy Billups injury, Carton Butler has been strong at his position and provided veteran leadership, and although DeAndre Jordan still has some work to do, he is still a very athletic defensive force that scores a bucket now and then
And Chris Paul is the man who has made the difference. If the people who voted for the NBA most valuable player take into account the impact a player has had to his team, and where the team would be without him, Paul would win in a landslide. Without LeBron James the Miami Heat would still win a lot of games, without Paul the Clippers would be, well, the Clippers. Would the Clippers of last year rallied from 27 points down with 8 minutes to go against a good Memphis team on the road? And what he has done for this franchise goes far beyond points, assists and last second gallantry, in 4 months time he has managed to take the biggest losers in history turned them into a team that expects to win.
3, Intangibles. Simply put, the Clippers are a bunch of tough hombres. Chris Paul, Reggie Evens and Caron Butler have brought a certain chemistry to this team where now, incredibly, the Clippers seem poised to eliminate the Grizzlies from the playoffs and take their show on the road to San Antonio. .The Clippers are having a lot of fun right now, and while the betting lines will heavily favor the Spurs, look for “Lob City” to make a deep playoff run