The Curious Case of the Clippers
*Photo via Getty Images
The curious case of the Clippers continues to riddle the NBA. Los Angeles has been beset with injuries, controversy, and rumors. Namely those associated with their franchise face, Blake Griffin.
While Griffin continues to be sidelined by a quad injury, his actions off the court questioned the integrity and continuity of the Clippers’ locker room. His standing with the Clippers would also be questioned as they went on an immediate ten-game run and now flex a 26-11 record since his absence.
While some have called for Griffin’s head during his absence, the Los Angeles Clippers continue to juggle the depths of mediocrity and the heights of greatness in his absence. Yet, standing at 42-24, the Clippers only have the ability to measure up with giants of the West with their own beast in Blake. Without him, they don’t pack the consistent punch or power to match Golden State, San Antonio, nor Oklahoma City in a seven-game playoff series. The Clippers need Blake Griffin back to regain continuity for a playoff push.
But is that enough?
With Doc Rivers at the helm, Los Angeles made questionable and nearly fruitless acquisitions to contend with the West’s Best. Josh Smith held no court in LA and Lance Stephenson was only beneficial to gain their newest asset: Jeff Green.
*Photo via AJC
An improvement over Stephenson, Green brings length, slashing ability, and shooting the Clippers have desired since their rebirth. Yet Green’s play so far has been indicative of the Clippers’ season: inconsistent. In 13 games in an LA uniform, Green has scored over 15 just five times and less than 10 six (four of which he went scoreless).
Aside from offensive production, which Jeff Green was acquired for, he has little effect on the defensive end of the ball and he struggles to court the rebounds that the absent Blake Griffin once garnered. The more the Clippers have to use Jeff Green in Griffin’s absence, the more these inconsistencies become more obvious. While Jeff Green is an improvement, he is not the solution to the Clippers’ Championship woes.
Neither are any of the players that have stepped up to create the illusion of a better Blake-less Clippers. J.J. Redick is having a career year, averaging nearly 17 PPG and putting up over 20 points 16 times since Griffin’s absence, 12 in winning efforts. Yet, this effort has only occurred in less than 50% of the games since Blake Griffin was injured on Christmas day.
While Chris Paul remains the constant pit bull on both sides of the court, Blake Griffin is the consistent punch that the Clippers currently lack. From the alpha of their rebirth it was always obvious that the Los Angeles Clippers will only go as far as Blake Griffin takes them. Right now that means another fruitless playoff endeavor.
*Photo via Sporting News
With Blake Griffin out since December and an uncertain return date, it is unclear if the Clippers will be able to regain pre-punching Blake continuity, especially with their new addition.
While the Clippers will be reintroducing Blake Griffin, the West’s best (and East’s best) will be hitting their playoff stride. Until then, there are too many question marks to challenge the Championship prepared Warriors and seasoned playoff teams like San Antonio and OKC.