The Clippers (53-29) won 50 games for the fifth consecutive season but still can’t get one of the West’s top two seeds. They’s still have home court in the first round against the fifth seeded Blazers (44-38).
Even without Blake Griffin, the Clippers managed to win over 50 games. At times, they looked better off without Griffin, but if they’re truly going to compete with the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder, they’ll need Blake at his best. But his absence gave crucial experience to guys like Wes Johnson and Cole Aldrich and forced J.J. Redick to have a bigger role which could really help the Clippers this postseason.
Portland may have been the biggest surprise team this year. After losing four starters from last year’s team, everyone had written them off. But the remaining starter, Damian Lillard, got a lot of help from young guys like C.J. McCollum and new additions like Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu. Terry Stotts will get a lot of Coach of the year consideration for the job he did this year.
If there will be any upset in the first round in the West this year, it will be in this series. But it’s still very unlikely. This is one of the most lopsided 4-5 matchups that I can remember, with the two teams separated by 9 games. Portland’s strength is in its backcourt but you could make a case that Chris Paul and Redick actually make for a better one. The Clippers are clearly the better team here.
The Pick: Clippers in 5