Ten to Watch: Clippers’ First Playoff Appearance Since 1997
By Brad Friedman
With the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference postseason bracket, the Clippers make their first playoff appearance since 1997, when they were swept by Utah in the First Round and Bo Outlaw still went by his birth name of "Charles."
The franchise hasn't even won a playoff game since 1993, when Larry Brown was at the helm, or a playoff series since 1976, when the organization resided in Buffalo and was known as the "Braves."
The Clippers are more of a contender than pretender these days thanks to Brand and Cassell.
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This year, at least one of those streaks should come to an end, as L.A. faces a Denver team which it has homecourt advantage on. The Clippers' 47 win total was superior to that of the Northwest Division champs by three victories. Denver struggled at the end of the season, losing their last four games.
The Nuggets are perhaps the best running team in the NBA, so the match up should be interesting to watch with the Clippers' defense -- a weakness during their losing days -- being a strength. The club led the NBA in blocks per game (6.14 bpg), was second in rebounding (43.03 rpg) and 12th in the NBA in points allowed per game (95.92 ppg).
The commitment to stopping opponents paid off in the form of a second-place finish in the Pacific Division Standings.
"The core group has been playing together for the last three years," center Chris Kaman said. "We’re slowing picking up what Dunleavy’s philosophies and principles are more and more. We’re executing them better than we have.
"I don’t think we play great offensive basketball. We play good defensive basketball which helps us win games. Just the philosophy on defense and everyone playing together and working hard."
While an NBA title is a lofty goal, the Clippers' defense could certainly win them a playoff series. Such a conclusion would give this L.A. story the Hollywood ending the Clippers seek.