NBA: The other LA team
MANILA, Philippines - With much of the focus on the drama of the Los Angeles Lakers, their less heralded neighbors have been destroying the competition.
They’ve defeated the Grizzlies, Spurs (twice), Lakers and Heat by a combined 53 points. The Clippers have currently won 15 games straight, the longest current winning streak in the league.
What is most impressive is that they are doing it while playing their stars, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul at career lows in minutes per game. No one on the team averages more than 32 minutes per game.
Even with their decrease in minutes, the Clippers are top 4 in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. Much of their growth this season has to do with the upgrades in their second unit.
During the last offseason, the Clippers revitalized their bench unit.
In came Jamal Crawford who is the team’s second leading scorer at 16.5 points per game. Eric Bledsoe -- who in only 18 minutes a game is 2nd in the league in Player Efficiency Rating among all point guards in the league behind Chris Paul -- is a terror to opposing ball handlers.
Matt Barnes is playing the glue guy role to perfection, hitting 3s, defending the opponent’s best scorers and grabbing rebounds.
Coach Vinny Del Negro has no issue throwing his 2nd unit on the floor for extended periods.The Bledsoe, Crawford, Barnes, Odom and Turiaf lineup has an outstanding +65 in only 140 minutes together.
The starting lineup for comparison is +25 in 300 minutes.
The Clippers team is so deep that they have been without starting guard Chauncey Billups for all but 3 games.
Grant Hill has yet to play a game and Lamar Odom struggled so much last year with the Dallas Mavericks that they ended up cutting him midseason.
Odom has shown up this season a little overweight but is working his way into shape with solid minutes off the bench for coach Vinny Del Negro.
Once they recover, their presence will provide even more versatility to the team; it is equipped to match up defensively against opponents without jeopardizing their offense.
There are some worrying signs however. The Clippers are the 8th worst team in defending the 3-point shot.
Opponents are hitting 7.6 3s per game and shooting 37.6% from that area, good for 25th in the NBA.
In their 6 losses, that number has increased to 9.3 a game.
They’ve lost the rebound differential in 4 of their 6 losses (by only one rebound in one case) and are having trouble on the defensive end. They rebound 71.9% of all missed shots on defense which is one of the worst in the league.
Most of these issues on defense are masked by their ability to generate steals (10.8 per game) easily leading the league.
But once they start to rebound better, the Clippers may be a difficult team to beat. - Rappler.com