Since the 2011-2012 shortened lockout season, the Los Angeles Clippers have turned their franchise around completely, creating a winning environment that has achieved heaps of regular season success. The playoffs have been a somewhat of a different story however, as the electrifying duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have failed to pass the second round for four consecutive years now. After controversially retaining DeAndre Jordan and bolstering the end of their bench with the likes of Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith at bargain deals, the Clippers look stronger than ever.
The question regarding the Clippers throughout the inaugural month this season will not be whether or not they can replicate No. 1 ranked offense, but rather how Lob City defends. Their ability to contain dribble penetration was heavily exposed in the playoffs when James Harden lit them up for 25.4 points, 8.1 assists and over 10 FT attempts through 7 games. James Harden will look to repeat his dazzling performance when Houston rolls into the Staples Center on November 7th. After the Rockets surged to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series, the emotions will still be on a high, with the Clippers looking to seek revenge. Although the Rockets pride themselves on the unglamorous side of the basketball that was ranked 6th in defensive efficiency last season, they contain a dynamic offense driven by pure star power. Expect your typical high scoring and electrifying west coast game.
A potentially defining affair early on for the Clippers comes on November 19th against their undisputed conference rival Golden State Warriors. This head-to-head comes three weeks into the season and both juggernauts should be finding their midseason stride. With Stephen Curry and his lights out stroke led the reigning NBA Champions to the league’s No. 2 ranked offense, they will be the first ones to tell you that it was their defense that generated all their success. Bad blood from previous playoff series makes every meeting between the two teams make must-see TV. Whether it’s between Bogut and Jordan, Curry and Paul or Griffin and Iguodala, look for lots of physicality occurring in this second of four games between the two teams. Next to the Warriors, the Clippers had the best inter-conference record in the NBA’s tougher side last season, finishing 37-15 against fellow Western opponents.
All in all, the Los Angeles Clippers’ schedule through October/November looks very favourable for them. After winning 74% of matches on their home court throughout 2014-2015, the Clippers should be happy that 12 of the 18 games they are slated to play will occur at the Staples Center. Look for the Clippers to get off to a strong initial start as 3 of their first 4 games will come against beatable, non-playoff teams.
Courtesy of iSportsweb.com