The Los Angeles Clippers absolutely destroyed the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, 106-77, but one commentator wasn’t convinced.
TNT’s Charles Barkley, when asked if he was ready to “believe” in the Clippers, was quick to answer with an emphatic “NO.”
“Oklahoma City is still the best team in the west,” Sir Charles opined, “With the Spurs and Grizzlies in that top group. I’m not impressed with the Clippers’ half court offense. Once the game slows down in the playoffs, I don’t think they can hang with those three other teams.”
Reggie Miller, who sat with Chris Webber and Marv Albert courtside to call the game, differed. “Who out there is going to beat these guys four games in a playoff series, fast or not?”
Another columnist, on Sports Illustrated, wrote to remind everyone that Houston rode a 22-game win streak to a first round playoff exit (ironically, the same year Chris Paul’s Hornet’s posted their best record in franchise history and were beaten in the WCF’s by San Antonio).
So what’s it take to gain the respect of the pundits, commentators, fans, Laker-centric city of Los Angeles to wrap their/our collective heads around the possibility this team could win the title come June?
As a 28 year fan, who’s suffered sub-20 game winning seasons, empty arenas, and revolving door rosters, may I suggest that we continue to treat our team – 15 game winning OR 4 game losing streaks – as we always have. Love our team, temper our expectations, hate the Lakers with our collective breath, and simply enjoy the fact we are still here and still loyal. Banners? We don’t need no stinking banners?
But I digress. Last night’s beat down of the green monsters was satisfying for the simple fact that the Clippers showed they could push, shove, and grind with the best of them. The Celtics came with their usual grimaces and tried to knock our team’s heads off and intimidate us. Kevin Garnett was jabbering and throwing elbows all game, while Rajon Rondo kept posturing for a fight along with his other thug squad attempting to goad Blake Griffin into losing his cool, all of which led to an almost 30 point destruction. Games this physical rarely result in either team surpassing the century mark for point, but somehow the Clippers topped it just over midway through the fourth quarter. One felt they probably could have hit 120 if they didn’t take their collective foot off the gas pedal and milk the clock down during garbage time.
Oh, and just a reminder, the starters sat the entire quarter AGAIN (well, except for pseudo-starter Willie Green, who mopped up at the end and got to hit a of couple jumpers to pad his stats). After the game, Chris Paul was once again cautious:
Doc Rivers, once a Clippers player himself, was not shy in his praise of their current iteration:
“Last year, I think they showed up and they just thought their talent and their offense was [going to win for them],” Rivers said. “But this year their defense has been fantastic. I mean, we’re all talking about their offense, but they’re playing just terrific defense. And they have balance now. They’re fifth in the league in scoring, fifth in defense. That’s a balanced basketball team and that makes you really good.”
So yet another test comes the Clippers way in the form of a tough trip to Utah to play the Jazz less than 24 hours after dispatching the Celtics. Perhaps the streak will end, perhaps not; but no matter what, we fans will enjoy whatever comes our way and support our team as always, Sir Charles’ comments notwithstanding…
Tags: Blake Griffin Caron Butler Charles Barkley Chauncey Billups Chris Paul DeAndre Jordan Eric Bledsoe Jamal Crawford LA Clippers Lamar Odom Los Angeles Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Clippers Matt Barnes NBA Vinny Del Negro