Los Angeles Clippers: 5 2nd-Half Matchups That Might Ground Lob City
The Los Angeles Clippers have slowed down as of late, and Lob City's success may come to a screeching halt.
The Clippers have already been on a steady decline since their star shooting guard, Chauncey Billups, went down with a season-ending achillies injury. In their last 14 games, the Clippers have gone 7-7 against some really good teams—and against some teams, like the Washington Wizards, who might have trouble making the Elite Eight during March Madness, but I digress.
The Clippers will continue to face some tough competition after the All-Star break, and they might get into some trouble facing teams who have more experience then they do.
The experienced teams are the ones that usually thrive after the All-Star break—like the Los Angeles Lakers, who have gone 3-0 since the break this season and went 19-6 after the break in the 2010-2011 regular season.
Despite the recent troubles the Clippers have encountered, they have been able to impress the masses with their play.
However, the second half of the season should scare the Clippers and their fanbase because there are some tough matchups against some very tough teams who are either looking for revenge or looking to kill the hype that is “Lob City."
San Antonio Spurs
On March 9, the Clippers will face the San Antonio Spurs in the stadium that Tim Duncan built.
The Spurs have the second-best record in the West. San Antonio has always played well because it's staffed with great coaches and is led by the best coach in the NBA, Gregg Popovich.
The Clippers and Spurs have met twice this season, and the Spurs won in as many games. Unlike other teams, the Spurs have found a way to keep the Clippers from playing the type of game they are used to—high-tempo.
The Spurs seem to be only getting better as the season goes on, and not much should change when the Clippers face the Spurs on March 9.
Prediction: Spurs 100, Clippers 92
On March 12, the Boston Celtics will arrive in Los Angeles to face the Clippers for the first time this season.
In recent seasons, the Clippers have been a thorn in the side of the Celtics by beating them twice as underdogs—this time, the Celtics play that role.
The Celtics may not be playing at a high level, but don't expect them to just sit back and let the Clippers do what they want. Boston has played four games since the All-Star break and won all of them. Behind the great play of Rajon Rondo, the Celtics may be tougher to beat than one might have thought.
If Rondo can keep the hot streak going up until the matchup against the Clippers, expect Chris Paul and the Clippers to be shut down. Then maybe the Clippers will understand why the Lakers hate the Celtics so much.
Prediction: Celtics 94, Clippers 91
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers will meet on March 21 and April 11 in Oklahoma, and on April 16 in Los Angeles.
The Thunder are looking for revenge against the Clippers. On January 30, the Clippers hosted a match against the Thunder and defeated them, 112-100. The Thunder have played well against the rest of the NBA, but they couldn't find a way to secure a victory against the Clippers.
Ever since their matchup, the Clippers have been on the decline, while the Thunder have been soaring higher than ever. The Clippers will definitely have a tough time against the Thunder, but the Oklahoma City does not possess the same type of defensive skill that the Spurs do to shut down the Clippers.
Having said that, expect the Clippers to fall short to the Thunder, unless the Clips find someone to help them excel like Chauncey Billups did.
March 21: Thunder 108, Clippers 102
April 11: Clippers 114, Thunder 110
April 16: Thunder 105, Clippers 104
Los Angeles Lakers
The rubber match of the battle for Los Angeles between the Clippers and the Lakers will take place on April 4.
If you think the Thunder are looking for revenge against the Clippers, then wait and see how hungry the Lakers will look in this game.
The Lakers have played the Clippers four times since the Clips acquired Chris Paul, and the Lake Show has lost three of those matchups—two of those losses came in the preseason.
In their most recent matchup, the Lakers defeated the Clippers, but many called it a fluke because Chris Paul was just coming off of an injury, and the Clippers played one of their worst games; this does not sit well with Kobe and the Lakers.
Expect this game to be the best one of the year between the two. The Lakers and Clippers will most likely make some tweaks prior to the trade deadline to not only ensure a spot in the NBA Finals, but to ensure the spot as the best basketball team in Los Angeles—unless the Sparks want to make some noise.
Prediction: Lakers 93, Clippers 92
New York Knicks
In the season finale for the Clippers, Lob City will take its talents to New York to battle Linsanity and the New York Knicks.
The matchup between the Clippers and Knicks is a very interesting one because both of these teams have stolen the spotlight from the elite teams in the NBA all season long. Whether it is a game-winning shot by Jeremy Lin or a dunk that rattled a stadium from Blake Griffin, the Knicks and Clippers have consistently been in the headlines all year.
The Knicks have been playing much better since the emergence of Lin and are now looking to end up at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. The Clippers are trying to do the same, but they have not been able to find success as of late.
If both teams stay in tact, then it would be safe to assume that the Clippers will have a tough time defeating the Knicks. The Knicks are on fire, and they may continue to be hot until the NBA playoffs come around.
Prediction: Knicks 108, Clippers 102
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