The Los Angeles Clippers had a massive offseason, and were having a terrific season, but they have drooped and wilted since Chris Paul went out with a knee issue nine games ago. Overall the Clipps have played a dozen games without Paul this season, they won the first three but they are 3-6 during this recent CP3-less stretch. The Clippers are in the midst of a long road trip and they have won just two of their past eight road games, but they are a whopping 29-10 when CP3 plays this season so Clippers fans are hoping the rumors that Paul will return on Friday night for their tilt at the Miami Heat are true.
I have been enamored by the play of Eric Bledsoe in Paul’s absence (article on Bledsoe and his future will be up on Friday Feb 8) but the Clippers are ready to be a special team now, and CP3 is the guy to lead the way. Paul is very good on offense where he is a double-double threat nightly, and he actually averages a double-double in Clippers victories (17 points and 10 assists for Paul when LAC wins). Paul has always been a terrific free throw shooter, and his .897 percentage this season is his career-best.
Paul is also a terrific defender who currently leads the NBA in steals, and he is awesome at creating steals without getting his hands caught in the cookie jar i.e. called for fouls. He is playing career-low minutes this season, but he still gets north of 33 minutes per game. He is not a guy who will turn over the basketball, and the eight year veteran is just 27 years old so he is going to be awesome for years to come.
The Clippers are currently the no.3 seed in the Western Conference, and they are three games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the no.2 seed and three games up on the Denver Nuggets who are the current no.4 seed. They are sure to be a top-4 seed in the West which does give them home court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs. I don’t think that Paul will be rushing back as they should be good enough to maintain a top seed, but surely Clippers fans are hoping that the rumors of CP3′s impending return are true – more importantly they hope he is ready for a sustained return as this team has legit championship aspirations.