The Lakers aren’t the only team in the West. We look at three things the LA Clippers can do to help them get past the other contenders in the conference.
If last playoffs taught us anything, it’s that there are several teams who feel like they have a good shot at pushing deep in the Western Conference playoffs next season.
Yesterday we looked at three things the Clippers need to do differently to try to unseat the defending champion Lakers next year, but the Lakers are far from the only threat in the conference. Denver and Dallas both figure to be more of a threat next year with the development of their young players, and Golden State will be back at full strength, ready to give it another go.
So the Clips need to think about how to get through all those teams in addition to the Lakers. With that in mind, we’re looking at three things they can do to get past the rest of the Western Conference.
1) Don’t look ahead to the Lakers
This felt like a problem all last season. The LA Clippers got up for their games against the Lakers in ways that they just didn’t against many other teams. Everybody talked about how all the Battles of LA felt like they had playoff intensity. The problem was, a lot of the Clippers’ playoff games didn’t feel like they had playoff intensity.
Against the eventual champions, the Clippers had a better defensive rating than they had for the season. To put this in perspective, they allowed 105 points per 100 possessions in the regular season against Los Angeles. Against their other two eventual playoff opponents? They allowed 112 points per 100 possessions to the Nuggets and 106 against the Mavericks.
How can we explain that, other than looking past opponents that they felt were beneath them? The team felt like they were always relying on being able to flip a switch – a switch which they flipped when the Lakers were the opponent.
Perplexingly, they seemed to still be relying on that switch in the playoffs! And, as we’re sick of reliving already, it came back to bite them.
Next season, they absolutely can’t afford to do that. With the 3-1 collapse, a lot of the mystique is gone from the LA Clippers, and they’re gonna need to bring their A-games to get through the even stiffer competition in the Western Conference next season.