The Raps once again need to regroup following a beatdown. The Clippers are the hosts, & they aren’t likely to be accommodating. LA’s “other” team has been an afterthought for decades, but they are retooled, strong, & quite capable of pushing those purple & gold people off the front page. Can the Raps catch the Clips sleep-walking?
Chris Paul has been an All-Star Point Guard virtually since the moment he entered the NBA. He knows when to pass & when to score, & is enjoying another superb season, averaging 16 points & nearly 10 assists per game. Paul forced his way out of New Orleans after growing weary of trying to carry the Hornets on his back for years. Now he’s enjoying the luxury of working with a talented bunch such as he’s never had before. Blake Griffin, the master of the highlight reel dunk, is a formidable cover for a solid defender. He could destroy Andrea Bargnani. DeAndre Jordan at Centre has bumped his scoring average above 10 PPG for the first time in his career. All the attention Griffin demands allows him more space to work, & he’s responding. DeAndre is their best shot blocker. Caron Butler is the Clips’ veteran Small Forward. He’s been a fine player for years, but if he’s having an off game, Jamal Crawford can come off the bench. That’s not a happy sight for the Raptors – anyone remember this guy, while a Bull, dropping 50 on us at the ACC? I do. Crawford, the Clippers’ top 3-ball shooter, can fill up the scoring sheet in a hurry. Willie Green starts at Shooting Guard, but is another player who frequently takes a early seat in favour of Crawford, or Eric Bledsoe.
Chauncey Billups, a treat to watch for years, has a foot injury & is unlikely to play. That won’t hurt the Clippers much – they have cracked the century mark in each of their last 5 games, all victories. In fact they average 102 PPG, & enjoy a 7-point differential over their opponents. This team oozes balance; their starters don’t need to play crazy minutes, as their bench is top-drawer.
The Raps’ defence went from porous to unspeakable in Utah. This game could get ugly. Let’s propose we make a game of it: Clippers 111 – Raptors 104.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada