Is this the last run for the LA Clippers core?
Four of the Clippers' five starters will likely be free agents this summer. Since Chris Paul arrived in L.A., only two teams have won more regular season games than the Clippers. But Paul's five trips to the postseason with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have all ended before the conference finals.
There were brutal late-game mistakes against Oklahoma City in 2014, an epic collapse against Houston in 2015, and injuries against Portland last year. So you can excuse the Clippers if they want another shot at making a run.
But if they can't get any further this year, you can understand if Doc Rivers decides to make major changes. And he may not have a choice, really.
Just getting out of the first round is no guarantee for the Clippers, even though they're relatively healthy and finished the regular season by 11 of their last 13 games. To even have a shot at the Golden State Warriors, the Clips will need to get through the Utah Jazz, a new team to the playoffs, but one that has fought through a myriad of injuries to match the Clippers' 51-31 record.
For one team, it may be the start of something. For the other, it may be the end. And it's the only first round series between a top-five offense and a top-five defense.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the 4-5 series in the West, with links to let you dive in and explore more.
LA Clippers (51-31)
Pace: 98.2 (17)
OffRtg: 110.3 (4)
DefRtg: 105.8 (13)
NetRtg: +4.5 (6)
- Scored 109.1 points per 100 possessions in 33 games (and were 21-12) against the league's top 10 defenses, the league's second best mark against that group. Only Golden State 111.1 was better.
- Were the league's best second quarter team (plus-13.1 NetRtg) and were 7.1 points per 100 possessions better in the first halves of games (plus-8.0) than in the second halves of games (plus-0.9). Only Minnesota (10.8) had a bigger NetRtg drop-off from the first half to the second half.
- Despite injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers' starters were the third most used lineup in the league (871 minutes) and outscored their opponents by 15.8 points per 100 possessions with their starters on the floor together. Among lineups that played at least 300 minutes this season, only the Warriors' starters were better.
- The Clippers outscored their opponents by 14.9 points per 100 possessions with Chris Paul on the floor and were outscored by 5.3 with Paul off the floor. That on-off NetRtg differential of 20.2 points per 100 possessions was the biggest (by a healthy margin) among 277 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team. This is the second time in the last three years that Paul has led the league in on-off differential. In '14-15 (and when he finished third last season), the much bigger differential was on offense, but this season, the he was almost as important on defense, where the Clippers were 8.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor. With DeAndre Jordan on the floor & Paul off the floor, the Clips allowed 111.2 points per 100 possessions, a rate which would have ranked last in the league.
- Paul was the only player to shoot 50 percent or better on at least 200 mid-range shots.
- Among 156 players who took at least 250 shots last season and 500 shots this season, Marreese Speights had the biggest increase in the percentage of his shots that came from 3-point range, from 13.6 percent in '15-16 to 50.5 percent this season.
- Among those same 156 players, Jordan saw the biggest decrease in free throw rate, from 122 free throw attempts per 100 shots from the field in '15-16 to 74 per 100 this season.
- Jordan ranked second in rebounding percentage among 222 players who played 20-plus minutes in at least 40 games, grabbing 24.4 percent of available boards while he was on the floor. Austin Rivers (4.4 percent), J.J. Redick (4.4 percent) and Jamal Crawford (3.4 percent) all ranked in the bottom seven.
- Ranked second with 3.44 passes per possession, but 23rd in assist rate, assisting on just 54.4 percent of their field goals.
- Averaged 1.22 points per possession in transition, the highest rate in the league. But only 9.1 percent of their possessions were in transition, the second lowest rate in the league.
- Only playoff team that didn't have a lineup that played at least 200 minutes. Their regular starting lineup (and most-used lineup) – George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert – played just 152 minutes (over just 14 games) together.
- Gobert defended 10.2 shots at the rim per game, most in the league. And among players who defended at least five shots at the rim per game, only LaMarcus Aldridge held opponents to a lower field goal percentage on those shots.
- Among 156 players who took at least 250 shots last season and 500 shots this season, Gobert (10.2 percent) had the third biggest increase in effective field goal percentage, from 55.9 percent to 66.1 percent. Only Tony Snell (12.5 percent) and Nick Young (10.5 percent) had bigger increases.
- Gobert ranked second (behind Jordan) in points per possession (1.38) as the roll man on pick-and-rolls.
- Hayward registered career-high marks in usage rate, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage and rebounding percentage.
- According to SportVU, Joe Johnson isolated 11.7 percent of the time after using a ball screen, the highest rate among 89 players who used at least 300. Among that same group, Johnson was also the least likely to pass to the screener, doing so only 6.6 percent of the time.
- Among 76 players with at least 200 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions, Rodney Hood had the lowest turnover rate (8.1 per 100 possessions).
- Hayward missed the first meeting, Hood missed the second meeting and Favors missed the last two, so the Jazz didn't have their starting lineup in any of the four. Paul missed the second meeting for the Clippers.
- None of the four meetings was the second game of a back-to-back for either team.
- The Clippers won the first half by at least seven points in all four games and won the second half by at least five points in three of the four games. In the third meeting, the Jazz won the second half, 65-52, shooting 11-for-12 from 3-point range.
- The Clippers assisted on just 42.9 percent of their field goals, their lowest rate against any opponent. Griffin had less than two assists in only three of his 61 games and two of those were against the Jazz.
- Utah's effective field goal percentage of 46.8 percent was their lowest mark against any Western Conference opponent.
- Gobert shot 23-for-35 (66 percent) in the four games, the best mark among players who took at least 30 shots against the Clippers. Rodney Hood shot 8-for-30 (27 percent), the worst mark among that same group.
- Austin Rivers' plus-45 against the Jazz was his best plus-minus against any opponent.
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