For much of the 2013-14 NBA season, there has been the overarching theme that there are at least five teams in the Western Conference that could plausibly come out of the conference playoffs and compete in the Finals for a championship. The West is just that deep and just that talented throughout this season.
Over the past couple of months, though, arguably no team in the West has looked more poised to make a run to the Finals than the Los Angeles Clippers. With Blake Griffin taking monumental leaps forward this season in terms of his game and his production, with DeAndre Jordan developing under Doc Rivers, and with Chris Paul being Chris Paul, this team has been hitting on all cylinders as of late.
What’s been crazy about their recent run, though, is the fact that they haven’t been at full-strength for much of it. Jamal Crawford has missed the last eight games with a calf strain and bulging discs in the back of J.J. Redick have kept him on the sideline for the last 18 contests. Those two players are the second and fourth leading scorers on the Clippers, respectively.
According to Rivers, though, both players participated in practice on Thursday, obviously a positive sign pointing towards their return coming sooner rather than later. With just around a month remaining in the regular season, the timing of their return couldn’t be more perfect for the Clippers’ chances in the postseason.
If Redick and Crawford can get back on the floor in the next week or so, it will give them time to get back to game-speed and allow the team to get re-acclimated to their presence on the floor and with the team. When at full-strength, the Clippers can both defend and score with any team in the league. Subsequently, if Redick and Crawford are back in the lineup soon, it’s hard not to consider them one of the favorites to make the Finals out of the West.