The Los Angeles Clippers are going to start the playoffs on the road, and will have a tough trek through the playoffs. If the playoffs started today, they would begin the postseason in Salt Lake City against a Jazz team that just beat them on Monday. The Clippers are the five seed and three games back of the Jazz, Los Angeles isn’t catching them and getting home court. In fact, their bigger concern is in the rear-view mirror — Oklahoma City is just half a game back of Los Angeles now. Fall to the six seed and Los Angeles would face a very dangerous Rockets team in the first round.
This is a Clippers team with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan — how are they starting the playoffs on the road? How have they dropped three games in a row when they should be making a push toward the playoffs? Don’t ask Redick, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register did, because the shooting guard doesn’t know.
“I don’t know what to expect from this team anymore,” veteran guard J.J. Redick said, fuming. “We’re in a bad place right now. We’re losing games. We’ve been s— since the All-Star break.”
Since the All-Star break, the Clippers are 5-8, having been outscored by their opponents by 3.8 points per 100 possessions. The offense has been okay (10th in the NBA since the break), but the defense has been a disaster, giving up 112.4 points per 100, 29th in the NBA. For some perspective, the Lakers have the worst defense in the NBA for the season and they give up 110.7 per 100.
A lot of things have slowed the Clippers this season, a combination of injuries and the team not having much depth around their stars. Which sounds familiar.
There is a good chance the Clippers get bounced in the first round this postseason (do not sleep on how good Utah is and how they are defending). Even if it’s another second round exit (beat the Jazz and the Clippers would face the Warriors) the Clippers will have a lot of questions to answer this summer. Paul, Griffin, and Reddick are all free agents, how much is Steve Ballmer willing to pay to bring them all back? If they do head deep into the luxury tax to keep them all, are the Clippers a good team hoping the breaks just go their way one year (like the 2011 Mavericks)? Is that the right long-term move.
It’s going to be an interesting summer in Los Angeles.