The 2010-11 season is right around the corner. No, it is like literally right around the corner. Training camps open in a few weeks and we can finally stop conjecturing and start making sense of this summer of upheaval. The new season will be much different than the old. So let’s start thinking 2011 and all the hope and promise that comes with it.
Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog.com has organized the NBA Blog Preview, consisting of all the best basketball blogs across the Internet, to help everyone get ready. The Magic will be coming up sooner rather than later and the season will be around the corner. I will be trying to keep up and give a Magic-centered look at each team being previewed.
Los Angeles Clippers
Last Year: 29-43, Missed Playoffs
Last Year vs. Magic: Won 97-86 in Los Angeles (12/8); Won 113-87 in Orlando (3/9)
This Year vs. Magic: Dec. 12 in Los Angeles (9:30 p.m.); Feb. 8 in Orlando (7 p.m.)
Magic Connection: Brian Cook (player, 2007-09)
The Previews: Steve Perrin/Clips Nation
The Los Angeles Clippers are a mystery wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a history of bad luck and bad decisions. The Clippers are just that confusing. Loaded with talent, but with the tag: “Well, they are the Clippers.”
Things were supposed to get better with the acquisition of Baron Davis. But the dream pairing of Davis and Elton Brand did not happen. Then Blake Griffin, the number one pick in last year’s draft, was supposed to be the savior. A summer injury kept him out for the season.
Such is life as a Los Angeles Clipper.
So will this be the year the Clippers finally, well, do something.
Maybe. But not likely.
Griffin’s return will undoubtedly help. But this is still a tremendously young team relying on a lot of guys to step up for roles they may not be ready for. Plus Los Angeles has to rely on Baron Davis staying healthy — a prospect that has been iffy in his two years back home.
So L.A.’s other team is still playing second fiddle and should be for a while. Chris Kaman had a nice season last year but it was obviously not enough to make the Clippers anywhere near relevant. And that is likely where they will be again.
Eric Gordon also had a breakout experience at the FIBA World Championships and appears to be finding his place in the NBA and getting more comfortable.
Los Angeles has some very solid players to work with. They are just too raw and unready for a serious run at the postseason.
How the Clippers will beat the Magic: The Clippers will have to grow up defensively in a hurry. But their athleticism could give Orlando some problems (note: SOME).
Griffin, if he can be as good as he was at Oklahoma, will be a matchup nightmare for most of the NBA. He would be a four with the athleticism to possibly contain Rashard Lewis and the athleticism to make it a mismatch. Obviously, Griffin will have a learning curve and he may not necessarily be ready to defend a guy like Lewis.
Other than that, Baron Davis has to look like he did when he was with Charlotte (Hornets, not Bobcats) to give Los Angeles a chance.
How the Magic will beat the Clippers: Notice there were a lot of Ifs in the analysis above. Let me add one more big factor: Dwight Howard.
Boy, it seems like Dwight Howard is going to be the deciding factor in a lot of games, but Howard has a really good history against the Clippers. He averaged 23.5 points per game, 13.0 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per game last year in the two games with Los Angeles. For his career, he is averaging a cool 17.8 points per game and 13.0 rebounds per game against the Clippers. Not even Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman could really stop him. And while Kaman broke out a bit last year, Howard really put him in his place in the pecking order of NBA centers.
Namely, well below Howard.
Orlando’s composure should overwhelm Los Angeles in this series.