The best things come in threes, and there are a few power trios in the NBA. The Los Angeles Clippers, however, have turned into an interesting mix.
The team has been evolving around Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, but the development of quality new talent and a few slip-ups from the original ‘Big Three’ has put the team on a strange path. The Clippers have won 10 of their last 11 games and seem to be getting back into their rhythm. They are going to need all the momentum they can get, especially if they get a chance to meet their competition in the West. They are currently the 4th seed in the West behind Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Golden State.
Playing at their peak, the Clippers are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA. A great pass by Chris Paul followed by a ground-moving dunk by Griffin or Jordan is commonplace. Griffin stuffs the ball into the rim more times in a game than the average NBA player scores. Think about that. The chemistry between the three is what makes them play so well together, but for some reason they keep falling short of landing in the conference finals.
They are in a very convenient position to become Los Angles’ dominant team, as the Lakers enter their post-Kobe era, but will have to face the nearly immortal Warriors in Golden State. The Clippers managed to beat the Spurs in the playoffs in 2015, but for some reason lost to the Rockets. It seems that what is keeping the Clippers from advancing further is internal, rather than facing an opponent that is truly better than them.
Coach Doc Rivers is no stranger to ‘Big Three’ situations. Rivers led a stacked Boston Celtics team to win an NBA championship in 2008. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were considered the Big Three, with Rondo as the point guard orchestrator of everything. The Clippers now have a squad that is one of the finest collections of talented players the NBA has seen: in addition to the superstar triumvirate, they’ve got JJ Reddick, Paul Pierce, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, and Jeff Green. Luckily, the extra talent can help to pick up the slack and hopefully bolster the Clippers in the upcoming playoffs.
This season, despite playing well, seems to have thrown some odd variables into the Big Three mix. Coming off a tough playoff blowout last season, DeAndre Jordan almost leaving to the Mavericks, and Blake Griffin – who is otherwise known for his cool demeanor – punching an equipment manager, of all people, has made the relationship a bit murky.
These three are All-Stars, no doubt, but would they go further on different teams? There are many suggestions being made that a split-up is inevitable, but what we do see clearly is that whichever one remains will be the hero of the Clippers.
Every NBA team has its poster-boy. Golden State’s is Steph Curry, Miami has Dwyane Wade, Cleveland has Lebron James, Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki, Oklahoma City has Kevin Durant, the Lakers have/had Kobe, and so on.
The poster-boy for the Clippers is undoubtedly Blake Griffin. The recent time he spent off the court for his broken hand put his position in jeopardy, but he’s back and still slamming buckets just in time for the playoffs. These next few weeks are going to be defining for the future of the Clippers, because they now have a better crack at the Championship than ever.
All they have to do is play at their best, and then go even further than that to be able to beat the most formidable threat in the West, the record-breaking Warriors.