- Teams: Los Angeles Clippers (28-14) at Detroit Pistons (17-23)
- Date: January 20, 2014
- Time: 1:00 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Los Angeles Clippers might just be the most underrated and overrated team in the league at the same time. Indeed, once Doc Rivers relocated to the City of Angels, it was expected that he would transform the team into a juggernaut worthy of the top spot in the West.
Instead, the Clips started out the season by losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on opening night. Furthermore, at this time last season, Blake Griffin and company had just completed an improbable 17-game winning streak with Vinny Del Negro at the helm.
Hence, it’s difficult to say the team got better when it would appear as though they are essentially in the same spot as last season sans the consecutive victories.
Ah but things are in fact not quite as similar. Lob City barely looked competent in 2012-13 without Chris Paul. Indeed, they played like a team with no organization or leadership, which led to nights where the opposition took them to school.
This time around, Los Angeles is a better team. To be fair, the upgraded roster certainly helps.
The Clippers added some shooters that also masquerade as competent perimeter defenders. Consequently, Rivers’ group has more spacing on the floor and can run the offense through Griffin.
The big man can play in the high and low post, where he does damage with jumper, ball-handling and passing. What’s more, he is just as deadly in the pick-and-roll because he is a great finisher at the rim.
There has been a slow evolution to his game whereby the Clippers are no longer lost without Paul. The Clippers outscore opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions with Griffin on the court, which is the equivalent of the Houston Rockets.
In other words, Griffin alone helps L.A. boast one of the top records in the conference. The highflyer is not alone though. This is where Rivers’ impact has been felt the most.
The team is statistically in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Those numbers can at times be misleading, but they seem to be just about on point with the Clippers.
The team has demonstrated a good discipline on defense and a belief in trusting each other on offense. The former Boston Celtics’ coach has implemented his system and is reaping the benefits despite the absence of its best player.
As the Detroit Pistons host the Clips today, the thing to pay attention to is not the highlights, but rather the team play. They might break out a few isolations and highlights every now and then, but make no mistake, this is no longer a one-man show.