The LA Clippers are off to their best start in franchise history, yet they aren’t getting much praise.
For the past three years, those close to me know that I’ve said the LA Clippers should be championship contenders, and this season they are proving that bold statement.
This core of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan has been together since the 2013-14 season but they have yet to even make it to the Western Conference Finals.
The franchise usually has a successful regular season but ends up ruining it in the playoffs.
Last season, Paul suffered a broken hand in the first round, and as a result, the team was defeated by the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. In 2015, they squandered a 3-1 lead to the Houston Rockets in the conference semifinals and were defeated in seven games. In 2014, the Oklahoma City Thunder got the best of them in the conference semifinals in six games.
Is it alarming that they are leading the NBA with a near perfect record of 9-1? Does it shock anyone that they are beating teams by an average of 16.9 points per game? Or maybe one can’t fathom the fact that they have the best defense in the league according to nba.com/stats.
Even Griffin has noticed the team’s improved defense.
“It is a different thing,” said the power forward. “I feel like I keep repeating myself, but we just take ownership of defense differently. There’s a different feel. Not to say in years past we haven’t…but, this year it’s all about getting stops and getting out into transition. We’re not worried about our offense.”
The five-time All Star is averaging 20.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game so far. While those are not his best numbers career wise, it is efficient enough for the way the Clippers are playing.
Griffin posted 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 119-115 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night. Paul had 19 points and eight assists and shared exactly what is different about their defensive efforts this season.
“Why didn’t we do this last year?” the All-Star point guard said to himself. “Part of it is attention to detail, tweaking a few things here and there and trust. It always helps, too, to know that if you help a guy, another guy is going to be there.”
This season might be the last chance the franchise has to contend for a championship due to the fact that Paul will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and Griffin can opt out of his contract and test free agency as well if he wishes to do so.
The team is on a league-best 6-game winning streak. LA aims for seven when they take on the Brooklyn Nets tonight at home.