And considering the most recent loss came Monday against the hapless Washington Wizards, a point raised by ESPNLA.com’s Arash Markazi is difficult to refute: The Clips don’t look particularly impressive without Chris Paul.
But however true, I’m also not sure how significant this is, as it feels fairly expected. Eyebrows might be raised a bit, considering the Clips earlier won three consecutive roadies with CP3 shelved. Still, for the most part, such returns are the exception and not the rule.
Logically speaking, one expects teams to struggle in the absence of not just their best player, but a legitimate MVP candidate. I suspect this would be the case for the Thunder without Kevin Durant, the Heat without LeBron James, or the Spurs without Tim Duncan.
Big picture, with an eye on the playoffs, all of those teams would be considerably less formidable. That’s just reality. Ultimately, what these recent games have demonstrated is the decreased likelihood of the Clippers making a title run if Paul isn’t available or close to 100 percent.
Then again, who’d have suspected otherwise? We’re talking about two All-Star starters here.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (30-18)
Should Stephen Curry’s ankle remain solid (fingers seriously crossed), this week not only provides an opportunity to see the Warriors fully intact, but against a slate of legitimate competition. And considering they’re fresh off a 140-109 beatdown at the expense of the Houston Rockets, this young squad is likely itching for a chance at admirable redemption.
Wednesday, they visited Oklahoma City, testing Bogut’s skills as a rim protector against the varying likes of Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, as well as Curry’s and Klay Thompson’s ability to scramble OKC’s D as floor spreaders. Two days later, it’s a date in Memphis, who may not be as explosive offensively with Tayshaun Prince swapped for Rudy Gay, but an already smothering defense may deprive even more oxygen. Tony Allen is capable of making life difficult for Curry and Thompson, while Prince provides an interesting matchup against the latter. For that matter, can Andrew Bogut and David Lee make hay against the stout frontcourt of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol?
Saturday presents the second end of a back-to-back against the Mavericks, who may be a shell of the team swept out of last season’s title defense (much less the actual championship version), but they consistently battle. Despite a lackluster 7-8, injury-riddled January record, Dallas only suffered one loss by greater than six points. Finally, the Warriors come full circle Tuesday against Houston, this time as hosts seeking revenge.