09 February 2015

The Clippers are in serious danger of missing the playoffs without Blake Griffin

The news that Blake Griffin will be undergoing elbow surgery today and thus will be out indefinitely probably came at about the worst time for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers had lost two in a row, three of their previous four and were falling in the Western Conference before losing to the Thunder on Sunday, hours after the Griffin news broke The news that the team could be without Griffin for four to six weeks could put the team at significant risk of missing the playoffs altogether.
Los Angeles currently sits in sixth in the Western Conference, a half game ahead of seventh-place San Antonio, 4.5 games ahead of eighth-seeded Phoenix and then an additional game ahead of New Orleans and then Oklahoma City.

That is not a gap to be overlooked but neither is the Clippers' upcoming schedule, as first pointed out by my roommate. In their next 15 games they will play Dallas twice (both on the road), Houston three times (once on the road), once at San Antonio, Memphis twice (one away), once at Chicago, once against Portland at home, once at Golden State and then at Oklahoma City. That's quite a tough slate ahead of them and it gives them plenty of opportunities to fall further in the playoff race.

And as you would expect, the Clippers are not nearly as dangerous offensively without Griffin. As noted by Liam Boylan-Pett of SB Nation, the Clippers drop to a 100.3 offensive rating when Griffin is off the court as compared to a 114 rating when he is on the court. He also plays a key part in DeAndre Jordan's offensive game as he nearly as as many assists to Jordan's buckets as Chris Paul does.

The loss of Griffin is magnified by the lack of depth the Clippers have in the frontcourt and said depth was further weakened when Glen Davis left yesterday's game with back spasms (he is doubtful for tonight's game in Dallas). That injury probably is not serious but even a healthy Davis as well as Spencer Hawes come nowhere close to filling the void that Griffin leaves as their on/off point differential has been terrible this year/

Perhaps Griffin will not miss as much time as currently estimated but there is no question that his absence leaves a significant void that the Clippers will greatly struggle to fill. And in a stacked Western Conference, a bad stretch could easily leave them at home come this spring.

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