From here , it’s all untrue. No pretenders. No more”if a couple of things go right” aspirants. No”maybe, only perhaps” hopefuls.
Actual, honest-to-goodness contenders only.
The Clippers, by virtue of being mentioned after that debut, are just one such contender.
Free of the shadow cast by Donald Sterling and imbued with the frightening enthusiasm and impossibly deep pockets of new owner Steve Ballmer, the Clips will look to lock up a top-three seed from the West again. This time, tough, they will aspire to advance to the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The bulk of the responsibility falls on the recognizable shoulders of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two players who could readily lead the Clips to another No. 1 end in offensive efficiency. Together with Doc Rivers’ direction and (hopefully) another measure from DeAndre Jordan, L.A. is in great position for another deep playoff series.
There are concerns.
The wing positions are feeble behind J.J. Redick. Matt Barnes is slated to begin in the 3, and at age 34 that there ought to be real concerns that his 4.2 percentage (yes, 4.2 percent) shooting from long range during the preseason is not as a blip and more a signal that his offensive game has fallen off a cliff.
Spencer Hawes has been the team’s big offseason get, and as precious as he is as a passer and floor-spacer, he will not scare anybody on protection.
If the crime remains elite and Rivers may handle his frontcourt rotation wisely, the Clippers could be marginally better than they were a year ago. That may be enough for them to achieve heights they’ve never reached before.
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