From here , it is all untrue. No pretenders. No”if a few things go right” aspirants. No more”maybe, only maybe” hopefuls.
Real contenders only.
The Clippers, by virtue of being said after that debut, are just one competition.
Free of the shadow cast by Donald Sterling and imbued with all the frightening enthusiasm and impossibly deep pockets of new owner Steve Ballmer, the Clips will seem to lock up a top-three seed from the West again. This moment, tough, they’ll aspire to advance to the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The bulk of the responsibility falls upon the recognizable shoulders of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two players who may easily lead the Clips to another No. 1 finish in offensive performance. Together with Doc Rivers’ direction and (hopefully) another measure from DeAndre Jordan, L.A. is in excellent position for another deep playoff series.
There are concerns, though.
The wing positions are somewhat feeble behind J.J. Redick. Matt Barnes is slated to start at the 3, and at age 34 there ought to be real worries that his 4.2 percentage (yes, 4.2 percent) shooting from long range during the preseason is less a blip and more a signal that his offensive game has dropped off a cliff.
Spencer Hawes was the team’s big offseason get, and as precious as he is as a passer and floor-spacer, he won’t scare anybody on defense.
If the offense remains elite and Rivers can handle his frontcourt rotation wisely, the Clippers could be marginally better than they were a year ago. That might be sufficient for them to reach heights they’ve never reached before.
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