Los Angeles Clippers No Longer Huge Threat

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers went 16-0 in the month of December, which eventually turned into a 17-game winning streak into early January. That’s when almost everyone was head over heels for this exciting young basketball team.

Nowadays, as playoff time approaches next month, the Clippers no longer strike fear into their opponent, as they did early on this season. The Clippers were that one team you didn’t want to see in the playoffs, but now it’s the complete opposite. This team has more than a few flaws and these days everyone knows what they are.

The Clippers give up way too many three-point shots on the defensive end of the floor, which has killed them in their losses this season. Opponents make an average of 7.7 three pointers per game against the Clippers, while also shooting an impressive 37.6 percent from three-point land. Communication shouldn’t be as complicated on the defensive end of the floor as the Clippers make it seem, especially this late into the season.

That’s just one of the Clippers flaws, though.

If the Clippers can’t run up and down the floor on the fast break, they’re in trouble. In the half-court offense the Clippers rely heavily on Chris Paul, which is probably an understatement. Paul is one of the best at making his teammates better and putting them in the best position to score, but if his teammates don’t step up then it’s strictly up to him to do it on his own. The Clippers half-court offense is a lot of standing around, watching and waiting for Paul to make the play. This happens way too often at the end of games.

The Clippers lack that other player that most teams have these days, who can also take over the game when needed. Blake Griffin should be that other player. He doesn’t demand the ball at the end of games for whatever reason and teams know how to defend him late. If Griffin gets the ball 15 or 18 feet from the basket teams are going to let take that jumper and not let him power his way into the paint.

Griffin has improved his jumper every year since entering the league, but not enough for teams to have guard him away from the basket. Griffin needs to become that guy on this team, which would take some of the load off of Paul, and make this team better in the half-court offense.

The Clippers were once considered a big threat in the Western Conference, but things have clearly changed. These problems have been exposed around the NBA and teams are no longer afraid to take on this team come playoff time.

Follow Michael Stephenson on Twitter

Around the Web