Clippers Playoff Matchup Preview: Portland Trail Blazers


Editor’s Note: Feels like it was just yesterday we were writing season previews on how the Los Angeles Clippers and other teams would fair throughout the regular season.

Now, our attention has (or is gradually) turning toward the NBA playoffs which means it’s time to take a look at possible playoff matchups, hence the title of the series.

Since the Clippers are unlike the Golden State Warriors or Atlanta Hawks, whose placements in their respective conference standings are set in stone, barring a historic collapse, who they’ll face in the first round hasn’t been solidified. Until then, we’ll begin to take a look at how the middle-of-the-pack Clippers match up with numerous teams in the West, starting with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Team Rankings

Offensive Rating: LAC – 109.3 (T-1); POR – 105.4 (5th)
Defensive Rating: LAC – 103.4 (18th); POR – 100.6 (10th)
Net Rating: LAC – 5.8 (2nd); POR – 4.8 (4th)

Team Leaders

Points Per Game: (LAC) Blake Griffin – 22.2; (POR) LaMarcus Aldridge – 23.2
Assists Per Game: (LAC) Chris Paul – 10.1; (POR) Damian Lillard – 6.2
Rebounds Per Game: (LAC) DeAndre Jordan – 14.8; (POR) LaMarcus Aldridge – 10.5
Player Efficiency Rating: (LAC) Chris Paul – 25.0; (POR) LaMarcus Aldridge – 22.8

Regular Season Head-to-Head

Season Series Leader: Clippers 2-1
Game 1: LAC 106 – 102 POR
Game 2: LAC 100 – 94 POR
Game 3: POR 98 – 93 LAC
Game 4: Los Angeles @ Portland (04/01)

Quick Thoughts

Although a matchup against Portland doesn’t sound appealing, the harsh reality for Los Angeles (or any team in the West) is that the depth of superb teams is sure to make for challenging playoff series. However, the Clippers have proved in two regular season wins that they can beat Portland. The sole loss at Portland’s expense so far this season was during Blake Griffin’s rehabilitation stint for his right elbow that forced him to miss 15 games. In a potential playoff series, the tables will turn in regards to the injury bug biting a significant scorer as Portland’s Wesley Matthews suffered a tragic, season-ending injury to his Achilles earlier this month.

How Los Angeles Will Win

The Clippers would win a playoff series in Portland if their reserves increase their impact on the floor while the starting unit is resting. This season, the shallow Clippers bench, with the exception of Jamal Crawford, has produced at a mediocre level. As of now, the Clippers bench ranks second to last in the NBA in defensive efficiency at -9.7 and third to last in overall efficiency with a rate of 30.4. The play of back-up big man Spencer Hawes could be vital, as foul trouble is always an unfortunate possibility with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Another key member of the bench in a potential playoff series against Portland is Austin Rivers, who will have his hands full with Steve Blake and Damian Lillard.

How Los Angeles Will Lose

The Clippers would lose a playoff series to Portland if they allow LaMarcus Aldridge to beat them. The Blazers’ offense revolves around Aldridge, as his versatility is difficult to defend. Aldridge typically thrives on mid-range jump shots and grinding out buckets in the paint. When Aldridge scores to the extent where added attention is yielded from defenders, he opens the floor for Portland’s array of three point shooters in Damian Lillard, Nic Batum, Steve Blake, and Arron Afflalo.

In three contests against Los Angeles this season, Aldridge has been at his best, averaging just shy of 30 points with 29, including his 37 point outburst against the Clippers in January.

It should also be mentioned that Aldridge becomes a free agent this summer and is likely fully aware of the attention his performance in the playoffs will draw.

Key Matchup

Damian Lillard versus Chris Paul

This was a toss-up considering Lamarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin battling for position on the low block is always entertaining. That being said, Paul versus Lillard in the playoffs would be more intriguing.

Both are playing with a chip on their shoulder — Lillard’s from his lack of recognition in early All-Star game voting and Paul’s from his heavily criticized lack of playoff success in his career.

Lillard can score the ball at a high rate, but Chris Paul is always up for a defensive challenge as he arguably plays better defense against elite scorers. Paul has helped limit Lillard to only 15 points in their three games against each other including a miserable 1-13 shooting performance from Lillard on March 4th.


Jamal Crawford is the Clippers X-Factor in most games and a playoff series against Portland would be no different. Crawford’s electrifying dribble moves and jump-shot range could exploit Wesley Matthew’s defensive void as Arron Afflalo and C.J. McCollum could serve as favorable defenders to Crawford.

Prediction: LAC 4-3