Skip to content

Just how far can Chris Paul, Clippers go in these playoffs?

Apr 26, 2012, 2:32 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers Chris Paul cheers on his team against the New York Knicks in NBA game in New York Reuters

I see the Clippers a lot like I saw the Oklahoma City Thunder a couple years ago — very talented, a world of potential, dangerous, but still learning how to win the way they need to win to start talking titles.

Those Thunder lost in the first round to the Lakers (the next year they were in the conference finals). These Clippers maybe can get past the Grizzlies and out of the first round — although that will be far from easy — but beyond that it may be too much. Right now.

For the Clippers, these playoffs will be a learning experience. Learning how to defend at this level — as they have done the last month of the season. Learning how to trust their counters in the offense. Learning how to adjust. It’s about gaining experience because while Chris Paul has made it to the second round of the playoffs before, nobody else on this team — including coach Vinny Del Negro — has.

Yet.

Now it will be a different game for the Clippers. During the regular season, the Clippers raw physical gifts could overwhelm teams — Blake Griffin can overpower defenders in the post, the raw athleticism of DeAndre Jordan leads to highlight packages. The Clippers got out and ran and put on a show.

But that’s not how games are won in the playoffs. These are good teams who have the ability to take away the easy buckets, they do not get overwhelmed with your big dunks.

Playoff wins come with controlled execution on both ends. They come with smart adjustments and execution. Can Vinny Del Negro make those adjustments? Can the Clippers consistently execute them?

The defensive end is the real key for the Clippers — they have been inconsistent there this season. The last month they have been better but it will be their ability to defend, rotate and adjust that will determine if they can get out of the first round against Memphis.

Let’s not think about what the Spurs offensive execution would do to the Clippers defense. Not yet. Let the team cross that bridge when they come to it.

The Clippers have talent. Raw talent. But not experience, from individual players or as a team.

The Clippers against the Grizzlies will be the best first round series in either conference. It will be physical, intense and filled with athletes. I suspect the Clippers will not get past it, but if they do the execution of the Spurs will make them pay in the second round.

Which is another learning experience. If you’re going to learn control and execution under pressure, San Antonio is the team to watch.

The Clippers are still learning. The exams are about to get a lot tougher. But like the Thunder a couple years ago, the path to title contender seems to be there.

Latest Posts
  1. All PBT’s first round playoff previews in one place

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:15 AM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 Getty Images

    Making your playoff preview reading convenient.

  2. Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes suspended 20 games for violating NBA’s anti-drug policy

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:54 AM EDT

    Nick Calathes, Damian Lillard AP

    Grizzlies’ guard will definitely be missed in the rotation.

  3. Craig Sager has acute leukemia

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:50 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five

    We may not see him on the sidelines of TNT games these playoffs.

  4. NBA Playoff Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    This should be the East’s most competitive first round matchup.

  5. NBA Playoff Preview: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:31 PM EDT

    How quickly can Miami flip the switch?

  6. NBA Playoff Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Can the Pacers regain their early-season swagger now that the playoffs are here?

  7. PBT Extra: Clippers/Warriors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Expect a fight by the end of Game 2.

  8. PBT Extra: Nets/Raptors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams

    People shouldn’t sleep on the Raptors, particularly the Nets.

  9. NBA Playoff Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert

    Dallas has lost nine straight to San Antonio. Don’t expect that streak to stop now.

  10. Ties broken, NBA Draft lottery odds, second half of draft now set

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Grant Gilbert AP

    All the draft lottery odds are here, so Lakers fans can look and see what that little run of wins to close out the season did to their odds.

  11. PBT Podcast: NBA playoff preview edition

    Apr 18, 2014, 3:27 PM EDT

    Larry O'Brien trophy Getty Images

    We look at all 8 first round series.

  12. 2014 PBT Awards: All-NBA team

    Apr 18, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    First-team frontcourt a constant, but guard spots debated

  13. Report: Steve Kerr “expects” to be offered, will take Knicks coaching job

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Virginia v Maryland Virginia v Maryland

    While nothing is set in stone (Mike Woodson has yet to be officially fired) you know back channel conversations have already taken place. It sounds like Kerr wants in.

  14. Jordan Brand unveils the Air Jordan XX9

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Jordan_XX9_695515-005_AJXX9_3Q_original

    Behold: The Air Jordan XX9.

  15. 2014 PBT Awards: Most Valuable Player

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Lebron James, Kevin Durant Lebron James, Kevin Durant

    Kevin Durant and LeBron James finish 1-2 on every ballot

  16. Why shot-location defense matters

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat

    Playing effective NBA defense is more about dictating shot location than contesting shots.

  17. One more amazing thing LeBron James has done

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat

    Taking a lot of 3s and making a lot of 2s is not easy

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (3428)
  2. L. James (3418)
  3. D. Williams (3409)
  4. K. Love (3398)
  5. D. Wade (3370)
  1. S. Curry (3307)
  2. R. Westbrook (3047)
  3. K. Durant (2902)
  4. R. Rondo (2713)
  5. A. Bogut (2700)