The Clippers are on fire and not only on a 14 game winning streak but have the best record in the NBA. Tonight the Boston Celtics come to Los Angeles for the first of 3 games in 4 days against California teams. The Celtics will be the toughest opponent the Clippers have faced since starting their franchise record streak but 15 straight should happen.
Both teams are coming off great victories on Christmas Day with the Celtics handing the Brooklyn Nets their last home loss under the newly fired Avery Johnson. The Clippers handed the Nuggets a beating much more than the 12 point victory indicated. The Clippers starters didn’t play in the 4th quarter again because of A Tribe Called Bench.
The Clippers bench is the best in the league and alone could be a playoff team in the East. Most of the attention goes to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin but the Clippers wouldn’t be the best in the league if it wasn’t for their amazing bench that still will add Grant Hill. The typical job of a bench in the NBA is to hold onto a lead until the starters are rested and come back in the game but not A Tribe Called Bench. There have been close games during this win streak when the Clippers were losing or had a small lead going into the fourth quarter and the bench not only extends the lead but makes the lead large enough that Vinny Del Negro has no need to bring back Chris Paul and Blake Griffin into the game. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin’s stats have even dropped because of the cut into their minutes during the win streak. No harm to Paul and Griffin though who put winning above all but still manage to be leaders in all-star voting while Chris Paul is starting to get the MVP consideration he deserves.
The Celtics have a great young point guard in their own in Rajon Rondo who is the league leader in assists. Christmas Day put the scoring leaders against each other and tonight will put the assists leaders on the same court. Chris Paul has struggled in his last few outings against the Celtics though shooting 3-21 in the previous two matchups. If Paul struggles again, all is not over for the Clippers. The Clippers used to go as Chris Paul goes but these Clippers can win games against quality opponents when Chris Paul doesn’t have his “A” game. Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes give this team another dimension and can pick up the slack.
I expect tonight’s game to be close heading into the fourth quarter meaning the fans get to see a rare Paul and Griffin 4th quarter sighting. The Clippers should pull away at the end thanks to their depth and the fact that they have Chris Paul and no one else does. “Showtime” continues to win their 15th straight game. Clippers do well on national televised games and tonight with only 2 games on the schedule will be the stage for NBA fans to see the best team in the league.