Monday, April 17, 2017

The Clippers' Big Three Bite The Dust

The Clippers' 97-95 loss to the Utah Jazz in the opener of their playoff series in Los Angeles was no ordinary loss. This one was a game-changer, a very ugly game-changer.. 

It's the one that signals the beginning of the end of the Big Three. This signature unit of All-Stars--DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin--has been the heart of the team in last few years. These are the guys who are supposed to power the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals, to the NBA championship.

They haven't done it yet. That Jazz loss says the Big Three doesn't have what it takes.. So, in the off season, when Paul and Griffin are free agents, one or both will be gone.

Bye, bye Big Three. Busting up that core will turn the franchise upside down.

Quite simply, the Big Three isn't good enough to get the job done. They have never been able to power the team past the second round. That Jazz loss says loud and clear that they won't get the job done this year either. 

The Clippers' task this time was exceptionally tough. They had to dispose of the Jazz, a rugged, solid team, before running into that second round buzz-saw known as the Golden State Warriors.

For the Clippers, that opening game should have been a romp. Not only was it at home, but Utah's best player, defensive whiz Rudy Gobert, went down early in the first quarter. Somehow the Clippers lost to an undermanned team that was playing on the road.

Devastating, inexcusable, heartbreaking.

If the Clippers can't beat the Jazz, a fifth seed, under those comfortable circumstances, how could they ever beat a juggernaut like the Warriors who, blessed with three deadly shooters and a phenomenal-utility man, Draymond Green, are in a league of their own? 

In the Jazz game, the Clippers had little defensive intensity. Also, they didn't play smart. Without Gobert, a tough rim-protector, the Clippers should have been crashing the middle over and over and scoring heavily. But that didn't happen. For some reason, the Clippers didn't bring their A game. And once again Blake Griffin was a no-show in the fourth quarter. 

Despite losing the first game, the Clippers, with Gobert out or at half-strength, should still win the Jazz series. But the Clippers have shown their true colors.

They couldn't win that Jazz game in which everything was stacked in their favor. So against the Warriors, where everything is stacked against them?.

You know what's going to happen