The Los Angeles Clippers will play without All-Star point guard Chris Paul again tonight, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Paul has missed the last four games with a knee injury and the Clippers have gone 1-3 during that stretch.
The other Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin has taken his game to another level in the absence of Paul, but that record says otherwise.
Over the last six games, Griffin has put together some of the best numbers of his career, averaging 22.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game. He has nearly recorded a triple-double in his last two games, against the Portland Trailblazers. On Saturday night, Griffin finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists in the loss to the Trailblazers. The next night was more of the same for Griffin, finishing with 23 points, five rebounds, and nine assists in the win over Portland.
Those numbers are pretty ridiculous for a power forward, but why haven’t those numbers led to wins?
Before Paul was traded to the Clippers, these types of performances weren’t unheard of by Griffin. The Clippers didn’t win much before the Paul era and Griffin was the lone superstar. He had to do everything and some, which is what we have seen over the last few games.
The Clippers need Paul for this very reason, Griffin can’t do it by himself. Paul is the motor that keeps this team going, forcing teams to focus on him and not just Griffin. He in arguably the best point guard in the NBA because of his ability to set teammates up at any time or single-handedly beat you on his own.
Eric Bledsoe, who is filling in for the injured Paul, has played exceptionally well. However, no one can completely fill the void of Paul. Bledsoe doesn’t have the jump shot that makes Paul so dangerous, especially when it comes to the pick and roll game. The Clippers haven’t been able to run an effective pick and roll with Paul out of the lineup, mainly because teams don’t respect Bledsoe’s jumper as they would with Paul. That leaves teams focusing strictly on Griffin on the roll and daring Bledsoe to make that 18 foot jumper.
Not taking anything away from Bledsoe’s game, it’s just extremely hard to replace a player like Paul.
The Clippers might have one of the best duos in basketball with Paul and Griffin, but playing without Paul is like driving a car without a motor, good luck.
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