Last week, the Clippers got swept by the San Antonio Spurs. It took a while but I finally got a hold of D.J. Foster (@fosterdj) of ClipperBlog.Com concerning the Clippers' first playoff run since 2006. While it ended abruptly, I'm sure he enjoyed the run. Right?
The Spurs swept the Clippers out of the playoffs. Nothing to be ashamed about, right?
Definitely no embarrassment in bowing out to one of the more dominant playoff teams we've seen in a long time. I really thought the series could teach the Clippers a few things like how a great team conducts themselves, the benefits of a playing within a system, how a great coach can make things so much easier. Getting to the playoffs and falling to a superior team is something all growing franchises encounter...but it's unclear exactly where the improvement can come from to get to that "Spurs level." Upgrading the head coach was the obvious avenue to do that, but instead the Clippers are planning on consistency and internal growth instead of an improved defensive system. It's...interesting.
Do you think the Clippers would've beaten the Spurs with a healthy CP3?
Nope! I think the Clippers probably could have stolen a game -- maybe two -- but as we're seeing against Oklahoma City right now, the Spurs just have too many "failsafe" options if one guy goes cold. If Chris Paul or Blake Griffin had bad nights for the Clippers (and they did) it was just too much to come back from. But the Spurs have all these different guys who can step up at any given time. There's two, maybe three bullets in the six-shooter pistol for the Clippers, but the Spurs were like a shotgun. Somebody was gonna hit.
What's next for the Clippers when it comes to their personnel?
The Clippers have three priorities that continue to come up. First thing, they want a stretchy big man -- someone who can hit from range and *gasp* shoot free throws at a decent clip. It would be nice if that guy could defend pick and rolls as well. Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin certainly had their moments, but the Clippers want their third big to be more of a skilled guy. Is that Trey Thompkins? Maybe, but Del Negro will have to unearth him off the pine to find out.
Next thing the Clippers want is (stop me if you've heard this one before) a true shooting guard with good size. With Mo Williams opting back in, the Clippers will still have one of the most vertically challenged backcourt rotations in the league. A solid 6-6 (Brandon Rush? Courtney Lee?) starting off guard would be a nice luxury to have, although I'd argue Eric Bledsoe does everything you need height for (rebounding, blocking shots) anyway.
The third major point the Clippers want to address is probably their most glaring weakness -- the Clips could desperately use a lanky, spidery wing defender to cover the elite 2s and 3s in the league. Caron Butler isn't getting any younger, and the Kevin Durants and Danilo Gallinaris of the West aren't getting any worse. If the Clippers want to improve upon that 18th ranked defense in efficiency, help at the 3 will be critical.
Of course, they could also use a real coach. Sigh.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images.