By Brendan Patel on April 1, 2014
Since the addition of Chris Paul and the emergence of Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers have been on the verge of great things. Several years have brought the team more depth to add to their star players, as well as young players growing into legitimate role players. However, their past playoff struggles don't represent a team capable of winning it all.
Here are five questions that they must answer to solidify their contender status.
The Clippers have struggled in past years at the free-throw line. Griffin has improved immensely this year, but DeAndre Jordan is still a work in progress. Teams are not afraid to foul him during crunch time and force him to make free throws. This could again be a problem down the stretch, and might mean that the Clippers will leave their best rim protector on the bench when it matters most.
With the signing of Glen Davis, the Clippers were able to add depth to their frontcourt. But Davis has recently had some trouble with the coach, and beyond him, there isn’t much. The Clippers will have to rely on a three-man rotation, but it is still a question whether their frontcourt depth can hold up.
There is no doubting the depth of guards and wings on this roster, but who will play when it matters most? Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison are good players, but neither are very strong defensively against opposing shooting guards. Does Doc Rivers leave Jordan on the floor despite his shooting? There are many options for the coach, but he will need to make sure that he finds the right mix to close out games.
The Clippers will need their shooters to spread the floor as often as possible to create space for Paul, Griffin and Jordan to operate. The Clippers have some good shooters, but they have had problems with consistency. J.J. Redick was brought in to help solve this problem, but has been unable to stay healthy. Players will need to step up come playoff time.
The Clippers have been called out several times for their toughness in the playoffs. There are several playoff teams that are not afraid to be physical, and the Clippers must match it. They have proved this year that they are not “soft,” but must continue that mindset into the playoffs.
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