The Scouting Report: Los Angeles Clippers
Projected starting line-up: Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, Paul Pierce, DeAndre Jordan
Injuries: Blake Griffin (quadriceps)
The Los Angeles Clippers are still a playoff team in the Western Conference and one of the better teams in the conference when they’re healthy. When they’re at their best, they can beat anybody, but the problem for them doing that is doing it consistently. Even before Blake Griffin partially tore his quadriceps on Christmas Day, this season was shaping up to be one of their least impressive regular season performances since Chris Paul came to town over four years ago.
Part of that is because Paul himself, while still one of the best point guards in the NBA, hasn’t been as good as he has been in past seasons. His 3-point percentage has dipped slightly and his turnovers have gone up. He’s still very good, but he just looks like he’s lost a bit of a step and obviously can’t play for as many minutes. That means that other guys have to play, which is sort of the problem when it comes to the Clippers.
They traded Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes to Charlotte for Lance Stephenson which hasn’t resulted in anything for the Clippers so far. While Stephenson has the potential to be the answer they’ve long needed at the three position in their line-up, it appears more and more that the potential he showed with the Pacers stayed in Indiana. Rivers gave him a start against the Blazers earlier in the season but he’s not shown the fortitude to stick with him in many other situations. It appears they’ve finally settled on Mbah a Moute as the starting three for the forseeable future.
Defensively, the Blazers will just have to consider Mbah a Moute a power forward. He has shot 39 percent so far this season 3-pointers but has attempted only 23 in 32 games. But we could perhaps see a little bit more Meyers Leonard at power forward than usual in this game considering the Blazers will be giving up almost nothing in a match-up against Mbah a Moute.
Defensively, the Blazers must of course account for Paul first and then JJ Redick coming around screens. We all know what Jamal Crawford can do off the bench and Pierce can make you pay in the right situation. Jordan’s offensive rebounding and rolling could be a problem for the Blazers.
Let’s just all hope this game is a close one so that we don’t play Hack-A-DeAndre for too long.