At the start of the season, I was a little optimistic about the Clippers.
I mean, let's be honest for a minute. I'm not usually a believer in the hype around teams because nine teams out of ten, it usually amounts to a mediocre season where nothing special happens.
We're talking the Philadelphia Eagles type of hype here. Look how that turned out for them.
And after the Clippers received the same hype around Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, many thought that this season would be solid, but nothing inspirational.
Those people, including myself, have been proven wrong about the hype so far. The Los Angeles Clippers are showing themselves to be a genuine championship contender in 2012, starting with their divisional title over cross-town rivals, the Lakers.
Here's four reasons why the Clippers, not the Lakers, will take home the Pacific Division title in 2012.
Read that carefully; the best starting five in the division, not in the entire NBA.
This is not a discussion as to whether the Clippers have enough to take home the entire championship and win big-time playoff games on the road, but a statement that they are the best team in the division.
Start with their big five.
The LA Lakers pose as the Clippers only real threat to the Pacific title, and their starting five have deteriorated over the years, to put it nicely.
Kobe dropping 40 time and time again is no longer a sign of their dominance; it's a sign of the team's inability to score enough points across the board without him, and his decision to do it all and keep his side in contests.
If Kobe has an off night, the Lakers struggle. But the depth and talent across the starting five of the Clippers demonstrates their ability to get points (and wins) from many areas, and their ability to deal with struggling areas more efficiently and still come away with a win.
It's turning in to a little bit of a battleground this year, and it's one of the key reasons why the Clippers will take home the division.
Look across the NBA, and you'll see the importance that winning at home has.
Divisional leaders such as Philly (8-2 at home), Chicago (8-1 at home), Miami (7-2 at home), Oklahoma City (8-1 at home) and San Antonio (10-1 at home) show the signifiance of winning home games to win a high seed heading into the playoffs.
The Clippers and the Lakers, as they share the Staples Center, have only lost two of their home games respectively, with the Lakers going 10-2 at home and the Clippers going 8-2.
With big wins already at home this year over the Lakers, Mavericks and the Heat, if the Clippers can continue to assert their dominance at home on the court at the Staples Center, they will end up taking the Pacific Division.
Whilst "Lob City" does appear to be sticking, it's not an accurate reflection of the raw athleticism and sheer power that this youthful Clippers side contains.
Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul might not be what you call youthful, but in a side with Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan up front, defenses around the league are struggling to contain this Clippers side.
And in this division, they are by far the toughest team to stop.
They rank eighth in the league in points scored per game, and are over ten places clear of other divisional threats in the Lakers and to a lesser extent, the Phoenix Suns, who are well and truly past their prime basketball playing days.
Inside the key, they are one of the strongest teams in the league, and their growing strengths outside of it are making them one of the most difficult sides to stop.
With almost 20 games down, the Clippers and the Lakers have already opened up a five-game gap on the other three sides in the Pacific Division.
The scoring prowess and overall abilities of the Clips will be too strong for a Phoenix side going backwards, a Golden State side struggling for consistency and a Sacramento side struggling for wins.
Which means it all comes down to the Lakers, which the Clippers have proven they are superior to on many occasions. They are the strongest side in the division and are by far the tougher side to stop.
The multi-faceted threat of the Clippers will take down the single-pronged attack of the Kobe Bryant Lakers, and will take the Pacific Division in doing so.
And they don't look to be slowing down for many years to come.
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