The Scouting Report: Los Angeles Clippers
Projected starting line-up: Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
New additions (reportedly): Dahntay Jones!
The Los Angeles Clippers are a very good team. I picked them to go to the finals before the season started. But when watching them and seeing stories about them, they aren’t really quite there yet. It’s still early in the season and nobody is in their final form. But the Clippers just haven’t impressed as much as many thought they would.
They seem a little off. Their defense has struggled and been around league average so far this season. They’re only five games back of the Blazers right now but it’s hard to shake the feeling that they shouldn’t be better.
Their starting wings have picked up their 3-point shooting and can hold their own against most on the defensive end. Jamal Crawford is one of the league’s leaders in fourth quarter scoring. But the Spencer Hawes signing hasn’t quite panned out like many thought it would. And they’ve struggled to find consistency on the wings behind Redick and Barnes.
This past weekend was a perfect example of what makes the Clippers so confusing. They picked apart the Mavericks at home and then on the next day Hassan Whiteside was getting all of the alley-oop lobs, dominating the Clippers in the second quarter which propelled them to a win.
If the Clippers protect the rim and the paint like they did against Miami on Sunday, the Blazers will be able to get what they want. Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson are going to be throwing down lobs all day if their defense is as porous. Danny freaking Granger was back cutting for easy baskets. Dwyane Wade’s penetration and playmaking made a lot of these things happen. And Damian Lillard is playing as well as anybody in the league right now.
But the Clippers being the Clippers, they will likely bounce back with a great game tonight.
The last match-up between these two teams had a close finish and the Blazers threw the game away with some boneheaded plays in the last minute of the game. The Blazers were up by 9 at halftime and are 19-1 on the season after leading at halftime according to NBA.com. Their Nov. 8 game against the Clippers was the only game all season that they lost after leading at halftime.
The Clippers are also rumored to be making more more roster moves. In addition to signing Dahntay Jones (I get it Doc, I just saw that video of his dunk at Duke the other day and thought, ‘I wonder what Dahntay Jones is up to?‘) the Clippers are also reportedly going to trade for Doc’s son Austin from the Celtics. There are some interesting things happening with the Clippers but it’s unclear whether those things are going to help the Clippers.
Rivers’ decision-making as the team’s general manager has been scrutinized. It’s easy to forget the Blazers wanted Hawes as well and so far this season Hawes is shooting under 31 percent on 3’s after shooting nearly 45 percent from last season. Rivers has had to do far more than coach over the last few seasons including try to hold things together for the entire organization during the Donald Sterling mess while also coaching the team.
The Clippers have two superstar players and Blake Griffin’s shooting has greatly improved. Chris Paul is still putting up fantastic numbers. And Doc Rivers the coach is still a fantastic X’s and O’s guy. The Clippers seem a little off but considering that they were dominated by Whiteside and this game is on national television, they should come out with a much stronger performance.
The Blazers are rolling as of late but are still shorthanded and the Clippers are by far the best team they’ve faced during this period without Lopez and Freeland. Portland’s done a nice job on the defensive end but the Clippers have far more weapons than the teams they’ve faced over the last four games.