The Los Angeles Clippers have utterly been dominated by the Golden State Warriors losing 10 straight times to the 2015 Champions. For some reason, the Chris Paul-Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan trifecta hasn’t found joy playing Steph Curry-Klay Thompson-Draymond Green and recently Kevin Durant.
For every strength there is bound to be a weakness of some sorts; that is the natural way of life on the earth as we know it. Even in the fictional world of animation, weaknesses are present for every character there is.
For the Los Angeles Clippers, its weakness lie in the bench well at least per the eye test. In every weakness lies strength and no one showed the world more in basketball than the oft regarded greatest player ever, Michael Jordan.
His greatest weapon (brilliant individual player) was his greatest downfall-depended on his talent way too much and played selfish. A quick scan through the legendary pages of the league show the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” come up with defensive plays to frustrate Jordan which became known as “The Jordan Rules”. The rules were to force (brutally) Jordan to use his teammates more than his insane talent.
Once he figured out how to score and get his teammates involved, the Pistons were out of options handing Bulls the keys to dominate what was left of one of the biggest rivalries in the game. Recovering from that gave he and Chicago Bulls strength to win six titles in six finals. The latest loss inflicted on Los Angeles was a 113-123 result to Warriors at the Oracle Arena before Golden State fans. Unlike the ninth loss where several key players including Green and Chris Paul were missing, both teams were at full strength. Paul had recovered in time from his thumb injury that needed surgery to correct and Green was back to his yapping best. The latter, in typical fashion, dished out a cold treat of trash talk at the retiring Paul Pierce taunting him Warriors fans will not serenade him the way they did for Kobe Bryant who retired last season despite Pierce being a son of the land; he grew up in Inglewood in California.
Nothing changed at the end of the game particularly the final result as Golden State run riot in the third quarter scoring 50 points in the process. On paper, Los Angeles is a bit short handed against the most stacked starting team in the league . However, the past two games reveal the Clippers need tweaks to ensure they overcome Golden State and it all boils down to effort; Effort to play hard on defense by the starters. Against Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Arena on November 11, Clippers won 110-108 and the final play should be the blueprint of the starting unit. As triple double machine Russell Westbrook run the court in the game’s final seconds, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute stuck with him and eventually forced him to launch a three point shot that missed badly. In other games, these traits have been missing.
Many look at the Clippers and see nothing but the bench as a weak link in the team. Per Foxsports.com in January, the Clippers had the third best bench unit in the league as at January 12 with a 101.4 rating. In the midst of a spell binding start to the 2012-2013 season where the side won 25 and lost 6, top defense from the bench was the main driving force. Per Fansided.com, the Clippers bench was third in defensive efficiency and was first with a +11.1 advantage. That bench had Eric Bledsoe, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins featuring. The Fox report had the Warriors bench as the worst in the league citing the starting unit’s exceptional production as the reason behind the team’s good form. Golden State since January, has progressed and recently became the first team to book its spot in the playoffs after beating Brooklyn Nets.
Dialing up more numbers, as at December 19, the Clippers bench was ranked third best in the league averaging 381 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game; these numbers were produced in just 18.9 minutes per game.
Many believe this could be the undoing of the team come the postseason as starters begin to feel the grind of extensive minutes. If the Clippers starting unit can’t outscore elite teams like Golden State and Cavaliers, its best shot is to defend better.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@ YawMintYM on Twitter