At least the Clippers keep their inconsistency rather predictable. Impressive win versus a potential first round opponent? Here’s as horrendous a loss as you will see this season the next day. On Wednesday, the Clippers handled a Wizards team with the ninth best net rating in the league with the ease of a confident team. Today against the Suns, who know?
That said, this game was a strong response to Sunday’s loss to Sacramento. The Wizards, coming off a a tougher game than Washington would have preferred against the Lakers last night, were not ready for a pissed off Clippers team. Los Angeles wore Washington down by turning the game into a sprint and effectively batted back any signs of resistance from the world weary Wiz in the second half.
It was especially encouraging to see Chris Paul go straight for the throat with a 15 point (5-5 from the field) first quarter. We rarely see Chris Paul seize control of a game so immediately with just his scoring, but CP has always relished these marquee point guard match-ups. John Wall, to his credit, torched the Clippers transition defense to the tune of 41 points.
X -Factor: This game was fought and won by the starting units as the bench for both teams provided little more than brief intermissions in the scoring. However the Clippers Big Four of Paul, Griffin, DeAndre and Redick proved too overwhelming as they combined for 107 of the Clippers 133 points.
What we learned: Washington is a very good team and this performance by the Clippers reinforced how dominant they can be when every one of the starters is playing well. However, outside of Jamal Crawford (who took 16 of the bench’s 26 field goal attempts), the Clippers got absolutely nothing from their bench. It’s comforting to still be able to sharpie in 15 points on 12 shots from Crawford but uncertainty remains over where the rest of the bench’s scoring will come from.
Things to watch: In the 102 minutes that Speights and Pierce have shared the court together this year, the Clippers are holding opponents to 105 points per 100 possessions, which would rate as a top ten defense this year. This seems ripe for regression and it’s difficult to see how that front court does not get shredded by any playoff team’s bench in a seven game series.
Staggering it with anyone but DeAndre does little to solve this issue as well. The Clippers are giving up 127 points per 100 possessions when Jordan is on the bench and Griffin is on the court since he came back from injury per NBAWowy. If the Clippers decide to play small with Speights or Griffin at the five come playoff time, they’re going to have to hope they can score enough for the defense not to matter.