The Clippers are heading into the playoffs amid tons of hype and anticipation. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and a decent group of guys has got many wishfully thinking that this is the top team in LA. Whether those people are right or wrong about the Clippers, there's some questions surrounding this squad.
Can the Clippers keep up their intensity throughout the playoffs?
In watching the Clippers closely when they played the Hawks recently, it was clear the intensity the Clippers played with was awfully low at times. Standing around on defense, lazy jump shots on offense and an aloof attitude towards rebounding make the Clippers look awful at times. Then there were moments where Blake Griffin would make fluid offensive moves, a role player would make second and third efforts and the Clippers looked damn solid.
For the record, this Clipper team hasn't had even a full condensed season to mesh and learn one another. That is a factor (or some might say excuse!) at play here. Despite their short time together, the way the Clippers turn their attentiveness on and off is a monumental problem. The only real solution is to keep the attentiveness on. Forget lapses. That's for teams that don't play in June. If the Clippers have any hope of shortening their summer vacations, attitudes must change.
Who is going to provide offense off of the Clipper bench?
When the Clippers take Blake Griffin and Chris Paul off the floor, the offense gets ugly. Eric Bledsoe and Mo Williams really struggle to get the Clippers into any fluid offensive sets and there's little scoring off the bench to begin with. Nick Young is the only potent offensive threat.
The problem with Nick Young is he's a lesser mans J.R. Smith at best! Nick Young can get crazy hot and look like Superman with the ball. On the contrary, Nick Young can take a ton of shots, miss a ton of shots and make everything look terrible. Nick Young hasn't done anything meaningful in the playoffs (he had a small playoff experience in 08 with the Wizards), so that doesn't bode well either.
The Clippers bench must either really find their offensive games, or be bolstered by CP3 or Blake Griffin. These guys solidify the offense, can create for themselves or others and make offense look easy. Problem is, where are CP3 and Blake going to get rest? The lack of firepower from the Clipper bench might be their achilles heel.
How can the Clippers compensate for their slim frontline?
The Clipper frontline isn't deep. Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Kenyon Martin are the guys who regularly play the minutes at the four and five spots. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are young, but they've put a lot of minutes on their bodies already and whoever they play in the playoffs will bang them around a bunch. Kenyon Martin has not been much of a factor for the Clippers.
The Clippers need to bank on the playoffs revitalizing Kenyon Martin. Maybe the intensity of the playoffs can stir Martin into activating the positives he brings to the game (effort, defense and finishing at the rim). Without the depth and ability to give their top bigs plenty of rest, their vulnerability may show early on in this postseason.
The Clippers are an entertaining team. While their roster as a whole has tons missing, it's hard to say they're not intriguing. Just the sheer talent of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul make the Clippers a sure playoff threat. Can the Clippers fight through their weak spots? The Clippers only chance is an amazing showing as a unit.
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