The Los Angeles Clippers finished 3rd last season in the tough Western Conference, finishing with a record of 56-26. They got a tough first round series against the 6th seeded San Antonio Spurs. This series went all the way to 7 games. The Clippers took Game 1 107-92 and started off strong with a 1-0 lead. Spurs answered by winning the next two games; 111-107 and 100-73. Clippers took Game 4 114-105 and tied the series at 2. Spurs took the crucial Game 5; 111-107. Did not matter though because the Clippers took the next two games, 102-96 and 111-109, and won the series 4-3.
They advanced to the next round to face the 2nd seeded Houston Rockets. This series also went to 7 games. The Clippers went up in the series 3-1. If you are a Clippers fan then you will be painfully reminded that the Houston Rockets took the next 3 games to win the series 4-3 and sent the Clippers home to watch the rest of the playoffs.
The Clippers brought three new guys over that are potentially their best three acquisitions this offseason. They also brought over guard Pablo Prigioni formerly with the Rockets, forward Wesley Johnson formerly with the Lakers, and center Cole Aldrich formerly with the Knicks. They don’t generate the buzz that these three guys bring to their new Clipper team.
Guy #1 is Lance Stephenson whom they acquired from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes. Stephenson hopes to turn his career around for the Clippers as he had an absolute terrible season for the Charlotte Hornets last season which forced the Hornets to ship him off only one year into his deal. Stephenson averaged 8.2ppg, 4.5rpg, and 3.9apg while shooting .376% from the field and .171% from the 3pt line. Yuck!
Guy #2 is Paul Pierce. Pierce really shined in the postseason for the Washington Wizards last season averaging 14.6ppg and 4.2rpg while shooting .485% from the field and .524% from the 3pt line. He came up big for the Wizards by hitting alot of big time shots for them in the postseason. Now he is reunited with his former Celtic head coach, Doc Rivers.
Guy #3 is power forward Josh Smith who played for the Houston Rockets last season. He had a pretty solid season and postseason with the Rockets with averages of 12.4ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.3apg, and 1.4bpg in the regular season and 13.5ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.7apg, and 1.0bpg while improving his shooting from the regular season from .419% to .438% from the field and .316% to .380% from the 3pt line.
The Clippers have been one of the most talented teams for a couple of seasons now but just cannot get over the playoff hump. Maybe now as their depth has increased will they improve their playoff chances. I have the Los Angeles Clippers trending upwards with a NBA ranking of #5 coming into the season.