The Los Angeles Clippers had a great regular season before the season was suspended, finishing with a record of 44-20, placing them 5.5 games behind the first-seeded Lakers.
Now this is obviously an amazing record, but the Clippers are even better than most people think.
Out of the 64 games the Clippers played, Kawhi Leonard only played in 51, with Paul George only appearing in 42.
Before the season’s pause, Leonard was playing like an MVP candidate averaging around 27 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 5 APG.
Paul George was also putting up a solid stat line of 21 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 3.9 APG.
With pieces like Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac, long time reliable sixth-man Louis Williams, perimeter lockdown Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Jackson, the Clippers are looking dangerous.
The key to the Clippers playoff success is whether or not they stay healthy.
If LA can maintain a close-to-full roster, especially with Leonard and George on the court, I don’t see why they can’t make an NBA Finals appearance.
Let’s assume a probable scenario where the Lakers keep the first seed and the Clippers the second after the seeding games are played.
The Clippers will probably play either the Mavericks, Pelicans, or Thunder in the first round, which are all teams they should have beat, getting rid of them in 4-6 games.
The second round would probably involve them playing a team like Denver, Houston, Dallas, or Utah.
In my opinion a healthy Clippers team would beat each of these teams in 6 games or less 2/3 of the time.
The conference finals is where it gets tricky. Assuming the probable happens, once again, they go against a LeBron-led Lakers.
Here’s why the Clippers can win this series.
LeBron James will be LeBron James but Paul George is one of the more underrated players in the NBA on the defensive side of the ball and he’ll put up a fight with him in terms of overall production.
How they handle Anthony Davis will be key to the series. Now they could do what a lot of people would consider and put Kawhi Leonard on him even though he is undersized, but I think they should play “tall ball”.
Putting Harrell and Zubac on the court at the same time seems like a bold strategy but one that can work at the same time.
The Lakers are a pretty big team, and the Clippers can definitely compete with their size.
Starting Paul George at the shooting guard with Kawhi at the small forward would be very easy to do, and replacing Morris with either Harrell or Zubac could prove to be a stop for Anthony Davis.
If the Clippers can get past the Lakers with their amazing squad, a finals victory against the Bucks, Celtics, or Raptors seems very do-able.
Photo Credit: Mark Terrill / AP