TALKING CLIPS: REGULAR SEASON RECAP
Clippers.com checked with a few media members who have regularly followed the Clippers this season. Here is what they had to say about the team’s regular season performance and also what their expectations are for the postseason.
Note: Each participant was asked to respond to the following five questions:
1. Based on the way the season unfolded, how would you evaluate the impact that Doc Rivers had on the Clippers in his first season?
2. Whose season was the biggest surprise on the Clippers' roster? Why?
3. How would you evaluate the in-season acquisitions the Clippers made? Will they make a difference in the postseason?
4. For the Clippers to make a deep postseason run, what is the most significant thing that needs to go right? Why?
5. How did the Clippers fare in terms of your expectations coming into the season?
From Dan Woike, Orange County Register
1. I think he's made a major impact on DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, primarily. First of all, he gave Jordan unwavering confidence, something he needed. With Griffin, he trusted him to be a primary playmaker in transition, opening a whole new facet of his game.
2. I was surprised Jamal Crawford was able to take his game to another level this late in his career, but the biggest surprise was how Darren Collison evolved into this jack-of-all-trades combo guard off the bench.
3. For Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu and Danny Granger to be positives in the postseason, they just have to be better than the guys who they replaced. That's not that tall of an order. I think all three will get chances, depending on matchups, and it certainly gives the Clippers plenty of depth.
4. They've got to stay healthy. The Clippers were able to overcome injuries throughout the season because of their superior depth, but in the Playoffs, rotations tighten up and a major injury could be too much for them to deal with.
5. I think they're right on point. I didn't expect them to have to battle so many injuries, so I guess the fact they won 57 games might even have them slightly ahead of expectations.
From Brian Sieman, Clippers Radio Broadcaster
1. It’s been as good as advertised, if not better. If you look at what he talked about from day one with DeAndre Jordan and how he expected him to be the Defensive Player of the Year, and how D.J. respond with one of the best seasons defensively in the league. It’s one of the main reasons the Clips are in the championship conversation. That’s only one of literally hundreds of things Doc’s presence has brought. Having said that, I really believe his value hasn’t even scratched the surface. The next couple of weeks/months (hopefully), we’ll see just how special he is.
2. Darren Collison. I really liked the signing back in July and felt that it was the best 1-2 punch at the point guard position in the NBA. I did not expect him to be able to blend so well and shine in both as a starter and reserve. He’s great in transition with his speed and plays the right way. But what really opened my eyes was his ability to defend. Not only opposing point guards, but really any wing position. Remember the job he did on James Harden a couple of games vs. Houston. He’s a winner.
3. Real Quick: Love them, and yes. It’s a dream scenario really to have a bench this deep with outstanding vets. In order of arrival: Hedo has come into his on with his role on this team. Doc has been adamant that he will make plays to win a game/series. I’m a believer. Big Baby looks like a totally different player the last seven games, and it’s awesome. He’s a guy that understands the intensity of a championship run with his time in Boston with Doc, and I think he too will have very valuable minutes. Granger may be the most skilled of the additions, but the most work to do in order to shake off the rust. Don’t let that cloud your judgment: he’ll be ready to go. However, instead of dominating games like he did in Indiana, he’ll be good in bursts like starting runs by making a couple of quick threes.
4. Defensive consistency. I think we all agree that the offense has been really unbelievable this year. No matter who started or who was available, they seemed to be able to score at will. The main thing for me is 48 minutes of defense is a must, ESPECIALLY if they advance against teams like OKC and the Spurs who will destroy you with any misstep. We’ve seen the Clippers get into shootouts (at Toronto comes to mind) where it’s a free-for-all, but when they needed stops down the stretch, they got them for a rare win North of the Border. Instead of 3-4 minute stretches, though, it’ll need to be for an entire game.
5. Well, I thought they’d win 60 games, and challenge for the top 2 spots out West. If you had told me of all the injuries I would have down shifted my expectations. Think about all of them: Chris missed 20 games, JJ only PLAYED 35 games, Jamal missed 13, Barnes missed 19, and they STILL challenged for a 2 seed all the way to the last game. So, I guess they exceeded my expectations. It should frighten the rest of the NBA that for the first time all season, this team is healthy and rested. As the kids say, “just sayin”
From Vincent Bonsignore, L.A. Daily News
1. A significant amount setting a level of expectation and creating a no- excuse environment.
2. DeAndre Jordan improving his defensive focus and his willingness to be a rebounding/defensive force.
3. The moves should have some on- court impact but more importantly it sent a message to the players the franchise will go the extra mile to field the best possible team.
4. Did not respond.
5. They absolutely met regular- season expectations.
From Eric Patten, Clippers.com
1. There were many tangible, obvious ways that Doc Rivers impacted the Clippers, but I think some of the most important were the things that went unnoticed. Rivers’ attention to detail was often talked about players, including Chris Paul, but that carried over into the rest of the organization. From the way the team traveled to the way they prepared on the court, Rivers and his staff worked with precision and foresight. I think that, as much as instilling confidence and belief throughout the roster, set the tone for a championship-caliber season from day one.
2. After a perceived “down” year in Dallas, Darren Collison came to Los Angeles looking to contribute to a winner. He got exactly what he signed up for and more. I remember the way Collison struggled in the first month of the season. But once January hit, he became one of the most dynamic two-way combo guards in the West. He has been valuable in countless ways from his defensive pressure to his ability to the get to the rim in transition.
3. The in-season acquisitions of Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis and Danny Granger not only gave the Clippers added depth, but also sent a message to the rest of the roster and the rest of the league for that matter that the Clippers were all in. It was reminiscent of some of the moves Doc made in Boston, signing veterans midstream that could alter the complexion of a playoff series. And let’s face it. That’s exactly why he brought in that trio. I liked the moves when they happened and I believe at least one if not all of them will pay dividends over the next couple of months.
4. They MUST stay healthy. There are still questions about Jamal Crawford rediscovering his rhythm, J.J. Redick’s back holding up and whether Danny Granger’s hamstring is healthy enough for him to play early on in the postseason. Of course, that doesn’t account for something unforeseen, such as Blake Griffin’s ankle injury prior to Game 5 against Memphis last year. To me, the Clippers are as viable title contender as any of the 16 remaining teams. Probably a sliver behind Miami and San Antonio, but as the other 16 teams are also saying they have to be healthy.
5. I predicted the Clippers would win 58 games, so based on that they were one game below expectations. Haha. But considering the number of injuries they overcame, especially in the backcourt, I think they far exceeded any altered expectations, especially those that would have been altered on Jan. 3 when Paul went down with a separated shoulder.
From Ralph Lawler, Clippers Television Broadcaster
1. Nobody said it better than 6th Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford when he stated: "Doc is the true MVP." It began the day he took the job last June and the focus has remained sharp and true: Doc Rivers came here to win an NBA Championship. This 2013-14 Clipper team is marginally better than the 2012-13 version. The difference in potential is largely the result of the leadership of Coach Rivers. Last year's team "hoped" they could Win and compete for a title. This year's team is confident, determined and possessed of a Hi-Def vision of playing in June.
2. DeAndre Jordan has been a true difference-maker for this Clipper team. He has gone from giddy athletic marvel to a serious-minded, defensive game-changer. That is a credit not only to Coach Rivers’ vision of what D.J. could be, but more so to the player for accepting the challenge and maturing into what had been a previously unimagined role. I knew Jordan could block shots and I knew he could rebound the basketball. Those numbers have soared this year, but his contributions far exceed the gaudy statistics. He has become the voice of the defense. DeAndre runs the defensive end of the court as surely as Chris Paul directs things at the offensive end.
3. I think the significance of the mid-season acquisitions of Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis and Danny Granger will be even more obvious in the playoffs than they were in the regular season. Hedo is a seasoned veteran of 93 NBA playoff games including a run to the NBA Finals in 2009. His 3-point shot and basic knowledge of how to play the game will serve this team well in the weeks ahead. Davis won an NBA Title with Doc in Boston and was a key player on two other Celtic teams that made deep runs into the playoffs. Granger is an added sniper and a versatile weapon for the coach. He has three years of valuable playoff experience under his belt and he will help this team in the postseason.
4. I think they need to play consistently well at the defensive end, limit opponent's second-chance opportunities and make their 3-point shots. When the 3-ball is falling, this team is virtually unbeatable (36-1 when making nine or more 3-pointers in a game). Each closely contested game will come down to which team can make stops. The 3-point baskets and the slam dunks are fun to watch and truly memorable, but the games will be won with grind it out defense and boxing out under the boards.
5. I think the win total is about in line with expectations but nobody was expecting Chris Paul to miss 20 games, J.J. Redick to miss 47, Jamal Crawford to sit out 13 and Matt Barnes to be idled for 19. It is very easy to see this team winning 60-plus and challenging San Antonio for best record in the NBA had those games lost to injury totals been 50 percent lower.