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Clippers know team they have been recently isn’t good enough

Mar 15, 2013, 3:02 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul and Griffin wait for play to resume as the Clippers trail the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles Reuters

More and more it feels like they are just not there yet.

The Clippers are 6-4 in their last 10, and as it has been with the Clippers the second half of the season you can’t say that is bad. They keep scoring points, they keep having highlights, they keep getting wins and having moments where they look elite.

But those four losses are to San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Denver and on Wednesday night Memphis. Exactly the kind of the teams the Clippers need to beat in the playoffs. The Clipper defense has been poor, particularly in the post, their offense good but unable to cover for it.

The Clippers are no longer a building team selling hope for the future to their fans — the Clippers are a win now team. And it doesn’t feel like they can win enough right now. It did earlier in the season when they strung together 17 straight wins, but watch the Clippers now and that seems long ago.

Chris Paul admitted to the Los Angeles Times what Vinny Del Negro talked about last weekend — the Clippers have to get better and they have to start doing it now.

“I like to think it’s possible to be a better team,” Paul said Wednesday, after the Clippers lost to Memphis. “We’ve got to get better defensively. Every night they [opponents] pretty much know what we’re going to do. We know what other teams are going to do. We’ve just got to get better, communicate, and be a little more aggressive on both ends.”

Teams have seen that Vinny Del Negro’s aggressive defensive scheme can mean big men like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are scrambling long distances. The result is an open paint opposing teams can attack. The Clippers as a whole seem to be thinking not reacting.

“When early on we were winning games and had that streak and even before that, the way we played defensively was aggressive,” Blake Griffin said. “We messed up at times, our rotations weren’t great at times, but I thought for the most part, we did a great job of forcing teams to figure out … our defense.”

They’ve got just a few more weeks to figure it out, then the games get serious and a lot Del Negro’s seat gets scorching.

  1. eventhorizon04 - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    Zach Lowe over at Grantland discussed the Clippers’ problem on defense right now. Their aggressive scheme calls for BOTH bigs to leave the paint to attempt to disrupt pick-and-rolls.

    In theory, that makes some sense – after all, Blake Griffin + Deandre Jordan are probably the most athletic 4-5 combination in the NBA, so Del Negro designed a scheme that utilizes that athleticism to disrupt ball-handlers.

    In practice though, there are two problems.
    1. Lamar Odom doesn’t cover ground very well, so that type of aggressiveness isn’t good for a team that gives Odom a lot of minutes.

    2. Smarter opponents have figured it how to defeat it even when it’s executed properly. 1. If the opponent runs a pick-and-roll with a guard and a center, the Clippers two bigs will come up to disrupt it.
    2. Meanwhile, the opponents’ other big (power forward) not directly involved in the pick-and-roll immediately cuts to the basket to take advantage of the fact that both Clippers bigs have left the paint.
    3. The opponent’s guard then either passes directly to his open teammate in the paint, or he passes the ball to a teammate who then passes the ball to the big in the paint.
    4. The Clippers’ wing defenders then have to decide:
    Do they collapse onto the big in the paint and leave a shooter open?
    Or do they leave 1 wing defender up against a much bigger opponent deep in the paint?

    • eventhorizon04 - Mar 15, 2013 at 3:46 AM

      Formatting mistake on my part. Ignore the numbering, I messed that up.

  2. spthegr8 - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Clippers are GOOD & fun too watch. But unless KD gets hit by a BUS between now & sometime in May. They are NOT beating the Thunder in a 7 game series!! Or the spurs for that matter. & I’m not hating. I’m Just Saying!!!

    • cmehustle - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      You should honestly hope that KD doesnt get hit by a bus. It will be 100% your fault…

  3. paleihe - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    As a Clipper fan, I hope they can pull it together.

    I hoped that Lamar would go back to his old form with the move back to LA, but that hasn’t been the case. It looks like he lost confidence in his game, which you obviously need in order to play well. The half court offense is horrible to watch. They have to be able to string some plays together that aren’t simply Chris Paul making it happen, or Jamal Crawford breaking people down.

    On defense, go back to what they were doing earlier in the season. Scramble like crazy, make teams thinks on their feet, and have crisp rotations.

  4. mat9844 - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    I know they’re better than this and, more importantly, the team knows they’re better. Let’s hope they figure this out soon.

  5. jimsjam33 - Mar 15, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    I love the Clippers . So what I say is not a blast at anybody it’s just the truth . Chauncey Billups is finished . Grant Hill is finished . They are a step behind everybody else and their offense is just not there . Billups is getting way to much time on the floor and the minutes are un-productive.
    Willie Green should go back into the starter roll and Eric Bledsoe as the backup .
    Caron Butler is a good first quarter player , but his offense slows quickly thereafter . Matt Barnes needs more minutes a the 3 position . Jamal Crawford should be first off the bench for either Green or Paul . The guard position should be a 4 man rotation with Green coming in for short minutes to rest other players . Billups is out and only on the bench in case of injury .
    Turiaf is out . He can’t jump . Odom is important , but he has to think offense first . Stop passing so much . Hollins should be the first off the bench for Jordan . Hollin can block shots and has good defensive instincts.
    Pretty soon Griffin and Paul are going to have to play 36 to 40 minutes apiece . Billups , Hill , and Turiaf should not play anymore in a rotation in important games . IE. Memphis , OKC , and SA. The rotation needs to go to nine , PERIOD !

  6. badintent - Mar 16, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    offense, throw the ball stupid high in the air, jordan will dunk it !!
    defense, keep Jordan in the paint at all times, even on pick and rolls , he will block the shot.

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