CLIPPERS.COM MONTHLY MAILBAG, NOVEMBER 2013

Clippers broadcaster and former NBA forward Michael Smith answers your questions about the Clippers and the NBA in the November edition of the Clippers.com Mailbag. Submit your question here or use the hashtag #LACMailBag to do so on Twitter.

Note: We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

Dylan Hickman ‏(@lowsalarydylan2h): Can the Clippers compete with the Heat?

Believe it or not, I think the Clippers match up very well versus the Heat, certainly better versus the Heat than they do versus Golden State or Memphis. The key would be dominating inside, forcing the Heat’s undersized bigs to contend with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin playing powerfully and above the rim. Birdman helped them considerably last year. People don’t give Pat Riley as much credit as they should for adding him late–remember that’s about when they started winning every game. The other key is to have a quick counter – like a “short roll” with Griffin and Chris Paul because Miami will take away CP’s greatness and trap him. You have to get rid of the ball quickly and have Blake go on the attack or be a playmaker from the top of the key. It can be done!

D Ferrari (‏@dfunky911h): Mike, out of all of the countries and teams you played for, where did you learn the most?

I loved my coach in Spain the first year – Manu (like Ginobili) – he was Spanish, and I played in Valencia!  He totally understood my game, and embraced what I could do well. He put the ball in my hands in all sorts of situations where I could score or pass to make plays. I played a little like Dirk Nowitzki (emphasis on little) and I could really pass. I played a ton from the elbows and the high posts and shot it easily from all over. One week, I made 23-of-28 shots and scored 50 points. The very next week, I made 19-of-20 and scored 47. All jump shots pretty much – haha….those were the days.  I loved it in Spain more so than I did in Italy. But the truth of it is I went to Italy right after the Celtics and quite frankly I wasn’t ready to play in Italy. I was mad and bitter and my mind wasn’t right to embrace it all. I thought I belonged in the NBA, I guess in some ways, I still do think that’s where I belonged…..oh well.

Maia Fitzpatrick ‏(@Exia_Atreides1h): Mike do you think the #Clippers defense will click strongly after the All-Star break?

Let’s hope so!  I do think they will get better and better. One thing we have to understand is that the Clippers really don’t have any great, great individual defenders. Boston did, especially with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, and Tony Allen and even Rajon Rondo. So, this process, this journey of learning Doc’s system will take a little longer, because of this fact. But they will get there!  It’s a matter of trust and patience but the key is in the doing during games. DJ is not quite blocking all the shots like he did in the preseason, but I think he will. It takes time. By the way, the starters, together as defenders, are like sixth best in the entire league as a quintet. They will get there!

Joe Flow (@AlmightySavJoe2h): Will Reggie Bullock see more time in the rotation as the season goes on?

He absolutely will. The kid really looks good out there.  First of all he can defend, which will win him minutes, but also, he shoots it with great ease. If he could become a Bruce Bowen type or Danny Green type that defends and nails corner threes – he can play forever on any team!

George Ramirez ‏(@CarmeloTheGod72h): Who’s your favorite coach of all-time? And who’s your favorite player of all-time?

Favorite coach of all time – I don’t really have one. I guess Phil Jackson seems like my favorite. I’ve always admired his cerebral approach and his patience, and his intelligence and leadership. I would have liked to have played for him. I don’t know if he would have like me playing for his team – haha.

Favorite player: Dr. J first. I loved him! Read books about him. I had posters all over the room of him.  We had a darkroom in the garage and I used to take the small photos from Sports Illustrated and take pictures of them and then develop them, and then enlarge them into black and white 16 by 24 posters. It was so much fun. I could spend hours in that dark room after school at age 13 or 14. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird would also be on my list. My current favorites would be Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant--love them!  And of course our Clipper faves: Blake and Chris and Jamal Crawford!

Steven Smith: Hi, Mike I've been watching Clippers basketball for over 12 years and the last three seasons have been by far the best roster the Clippers have had. My question is do you think with the new additions the Clippers have made, are they a strong title contender, considering the fact that almost all Playoff bound teams this year have their own big 3 quality players? If so, do you think the Clippers need to add another big to the roster to backup Blake and DeAndre Jordan?

Your observations are astute.  It remains to be seen if the Clippers have their own big 3. I do think the pieces fit nicely together. The offense is awesome and when the wings are shooting it well – look out!  This offense can be the best in the league!  I like the way it all fits, but need to get Matt Barnes healthy!  Individually, I’m not sure this roster has the “resume” that last years’ roster had, but collectively, I think it will play out better because of the shooting and youth and the overall fit. I do know for sure that the Clippers have the best coach they have ever had. This Doc Rivers guy can coach, he can lead, and he will help them win!

Gloria Reyes: My question is why are Willie Green and Antawn Jamison not playing?

They are certainly good enough to play and will play when the opportunity arises. They are both true pros and great guys.

Josh Bonnar (@jeepinjosh): Can this current fast-paced Clippers team survive in the Playoffs? Time and time again we've seen teams being slowed down in the Playoffs and the teams that can't play in the half court don't survive.

That’s a very good point.  We saw Phoenix teams that were awesome in the Playoffs never be able to get over the hump in the postseason. The Clippers would like to be able to say they can play both ways – fast and efficiently in the half court.  The real key is for Blake and DJ to be factors in the post!  That confidence they need is built in the regular season, so the more touches they get now, the better their chances of providing crucial buckets in half court Playoff type action later.  Also, it is important to run and run in the playoffs – this is when teams can really prepare for you with the added time between games, so they know your half court sets very well. One must find a way to run and get some easy hoops!  Defensive stops and turnovers forced can really aid a Playoff offense. If the Clippers truly buy in to this offense, maybe the running will be second nature come Playoff time and they will run some teams right out of the postseason.

Xavier Valbuena: Who wins the one-on-one matches between CP3 and Jcrossover?

Jamal does.