Wednesday morning the Los Angeles Clippers took a 94-80 whooping from the reigning NBA Champions, the Miami Heat.
It’s only right when two teams play back to back games in the schedule for the loser to seek revenge. The Clippers sought, found and conquered with Sunday’s 99-89 victory against Miami in the second and final preseason game between the foes in China. Wednesday’s contest was in Beijing, while the Clips’ victory was in Shanghai.
I’ve wrote this countless times — preseason games don’t really mean anything in the win-loss column. The only reason preseason games are even played is because each individual talent needs a showcase to evaluate their talent and what works or doesn’t work in the team’s system and how to fully optimize each player’s skill set.
With that said, the Clippers showed a few things that are working for them and certain players showed improved parts of their game compared to a season ago.
First on the team list has to be rebounding and inside defense. LA out rebounded the Heat 49-36 in the Game 2 win. One of the main factors of the Clippers 94-80 loss in Beijing was rebounding as the Heat dominated the glass 52-34.
The Clippers obviously saw the gap in Game 1 and realized they needed to man up, box out and put their bodies on the line for the loose–50/50–balls. Every single player wearing a LA jersey–who had at least 1-minute in Sunday’s game–had at least 1-rebound in the box score. Blake Griffin led the way with 10 and DeAndre Jordan added 9.
Defensively, the Clippers’ frontcourt held the Heat to 38 points in the paint.
This means the Heat’s superstars, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and star Chris Bosh were challenged in the paint. Sure, they played limited minutes and all three have great jumpers but something has to be said of the defense when James and Bosh finish with 11 points apiece in 20 and 21 minutes of play and only shoot six combined free throw shots. Wade is excluded since he only played in 8-minutes.
LA scored 50 points in the paint.
This success can be accredited to many things, including: Chris Paul’s return, Blake Griffin’s vow to become a better low-post creator and DeAndre Jordan waking up from his slumber. I’m not going to jump into too many numbers because individual efforts will be addressed in other posts but they did need to be mentioned.
If the Clips continue to win the low-post scoring numbers and beat teams on the glass, the sky is the limit. It’s a shame few people outside of Clippers Nation think the Clippers are an elite team and capable of beating the Los Angeles Lakers or Oklahoma City Thunder in a seven-game series because the Clips are already a great team and are only going to get better.
In my opinion, the Clips are deeper than Lake Show and have way more offensive threats than OKC’s two — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Again, preseason wins and loses don’t mean much, but the team has to feel good about where they are right now.