Cue the panic alarm!
Yes, the Los Angeles Clippers are 1-1 with an “impressive” victory over another Western Conference contender, the Golden State Warriors. Yes, Chris Paul looks superhuman and DeAndre Jordan may contend for Defensive Player of the Year. And yes, it’s super early in the season.
But, they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers — a far inferior team. And second, they’re giving up 115.5 points per game through their first two. With so much defensive emphasis in the Clipper offseason, these are discouraging efforts. Was the hire of coach Doc Rivers just a cover for a team with too many defensive holes? Or is Rivers just not that good of a coach?
Remember, Rivers was let go from his job as the Orlando Magic head coach despite making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. This is also the same guy who prompted Boston’s biggest fan and sportswriter, Bill Simmons to say this:
It may be an overreaction to start nitpicking on points per game and the head coach, and you may be right. But, we cannot ignore it. The Clippers lost to the Lakers. A team that did not have Kobe Bryant and half the roster of last season’s “playoff” team. This is supposed to be a contending team for the NBA championship and they lost a very winnable game. It’s also the same team that almost blew a 19-point lead to a visiting Warriors’ team that lost its entire bench.
The concern is less about the record and who they lost to, but more about how they lost. Defensive lapses and missed assignments, too many turnovers, and a motion offense that looks eerily like the halfcourt sets of last season. If this trend of run-and-gun continues, we’re looking at less of a defense-first team and more of a team coached by Mike D’Antoni. Let’s hope the ship rights itself or the Clippers may be done before we can say, “playoffs.”
Photo credit: Debby Wong- USA TODAY Sports
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