Sugene Lee

First real test of the season

In NBA: LA Clippers on November 20, 2012 at 12:26 am

The Los Angeles Clippers finally “showed up” to their last 5 games. Two losses against sub-par teams was all it took to get their heads back in the game. Soon after, the Clippers blew by the Spurs, Trailblazers, Hawks, Miami, and the Bulls. Given that they were all at home, minus the back to back game at the Rose Garden following the Spurs game, it was no small task to beat and even blow them out. But that’s exactly what the Clippers did.

For the Clippers whose offensive efficiency is ranked 4th, at 106.8 points, and defensive efficiency is ranked 2nd, at 96.4 points, the two most important factors for the last 5 wins were their defense and an unstoppable bench. In those last 5 games, the Clipper bench has outscored their opponent’s bench 213-164. All this with Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill and Trey Thompkins sitting out. This comes from Jamal Crawford who’s constantly on heat check, Eric Bledsoe who wreaks havoc on all cylinders, Matt Barnes who runs and defends passing lanes, and the hard-working players of Ryan Hollins, Ronny Turiaf and a little bit of a weight-losing Lamar Odom.

“Our defense leads to our offense,” was a trendy-saying last season and it has always proven to be true– especially this season. A huge improvement has been shown in their front-court with DeAndre Jordan, and yes, Blake Griffin; he is far from being the best big-man defender, but has shown visible improvement throughout the first 9 games of the season.

Credit is given where credit is due as the Clippers climbed up in the Power Rankings that ranged from 1st to 3rd place (NBAESPNHoopsWorld). However, the real test starts tonight– on the road. In the next six nights, they will be on the road playing the Spurs (8-2), Oklahoma City (8-3), Brooklyn (6-2), and Atlanta (4-4) the following night.

Playing against the Spurs tonight will set the tone for this 4-game road trip. San Antonio will be seeking for revenge after being chased out of Staples Center on November 7. Spurs’ starter, Kawhi Leonard, will be out tonight, but that should not take away any pressure off the Clippers as they go against another team with great depth. OKC, although without their 6th Man-of-the-Year, will still prove to be another test and may be a good match-up as the Clippers won last year’s series 3-1.

Predictions: I would love to see the Clippers go 4-0 on this trip, but being realistic, I really do believe that they will be able to go 3-1. Not sure which team they will lose to, but it won’t be an easy flight. Some say going 2-2 will be satisfactory, but I expect a 3-1. But, that’s me. I expect them to win every game.

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