Early on in the season, I expressed my confusion regarding Vinny Del Negros rotations (link). Two-thirds of the way through, I still don’t get it.
After starting out of the gates strong with 31 points in the first quarter, the Clippers ran out of gas and sputtered for the rest of the game. The starters came out with a sense of urgency, attacking the rim, staying aggressive on the boards and moving the ball well. Unfortunately, the energy didn’t transfer to stops on the defensive end and the Pacers were able to drop 31 points of their own. Midway through the second quarter, substitutions were made, subsequently Indiana went on a run and the rest was history (box score).
The Clippers haven't had their "mojo" since Chauncey Billups went down and I'm starting to wonder if the team will ever get it back. Even their wins are struggles, both offensively and defensively. It doesn't seem as though the team can string together four consecutive productive quarters. Most notably, it seems the offense always sputters in the second and third quarters, forcing the team to overcome a large deficit in the fourth.
A large part of the scoring issues stem from the Clippers bench. The unit, as constructed, simply cannot score. Today, Tyler Hansborough and Barbosa (his first day with the Pacers) were able to come in and give the Pacers a boost off the bench, while the Clippers got nothing from their guys. In fact, most of the damage came from when both teams' benches were facing each other, with the Pacers bench outscoring the Clippers bench 50 to 23.
The lineup of Bledsoe, Mo, Young, KMart and Reggie isn't working. Despite having three guards who can score, there is no offensive threat in the interior. If the defense can leave the interior alone, the wings' effectiveness will be marginalized. With neither Martin nor Evans being a threat, the interior defense can sag off of them and be more aggressive with helping on the wings. Also, defending guards can stay at home and not worry about doubling off their man. Guards need space.
DeAndre needs to stay out of foul trouble. I'm convinced his productivity is directly correlated to how well the Clippers play. When he's on the floor and active, he's a menace. On defense he is a constant threat to block and alter shots. There are gripes due to him leaving his man, but net-net, just his presence in the key is a difference maker. Without DJ in the game, Barbosa was able to slice and dice his way to the basket with ease. Despite his limited skill-set, on offense you can't ignore DJ since he is a constant lob and putback threat.
I've thought this for awhile, but refrained from writing it: I really don't see any chemistry between Blake and Chris Paul. They "get theirs" and put up the usual statistics, but I'm not sensing any synergy between the two. In layman's terms, it doesn't seem like one is making the other better. I actually see more chemistry between CP3 and DJ.
The team also needs consistent production from Caron if they are to succeed in the post season (if there is a post season).
In the eye test Nick Young looked good with the starting lineup, he seemed active and was able to manufacture some offense when things got stagnant. However, looking at the box score his game wasn't as solid as I thought.
Randy Foye was MIA in this game and it hasn't been explained why.
Coming off a two game "win streak" the Clippers should have been looking to build on the momentum to carry themselves through their final back-to-back-to-back (all away games). Instead, they start off on a sour note leading into tomorrow's game against the best in the west.