Blake Griffin is ready to make his first career playoff appearance a memorable one.
The Los Angeles Clippers are set to make their first trip to the postseason in six years. And unlike most new entrants, the Clips have the talent to make a deep run on their maiden voyage.
Built on the backs of two All-Star starters, the Clippers have shaped their roster into a winner—something that L.A.'s second team is certainly not used to.
There are still many doubters out there, though. The Clips are dismissed as title contenders because of the name scrawled across the front of their jerseys.
But this is a new day in Clippers Nation. Chris Paul brought more than his immeasurable leadership and sublime skills to this squad.
He brought hope.
Here are four reasons why you might just see the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals this season.
The three-point shot is the NBA's great equalizer. And the Clippers are one of the best at knocking it down.
The Clips are fourth in the NBA in three-pointers made this season. They have a collection of long-range bombers who are capable of carrying the offense for a quarter with their hot shooting.
A half dozen different Clippers have made three or more three-pointers in a game this season. And with Chris Paul's inane ability to spread the ball around, the outside gunners are always ready to catch and shoot.
With the power of the long ball working in their favor, the Clippers can shoot themselves back into any game.
In the postseason, it's crucial to hold on to the basketball.
It's simple math, really. The more you possess the ball, the more chances you have to put it in the basket.
The Clippers excel in this phase of the game, ranking second in the league in fewest turnovers and turnover ratio. Over the course of the season, they have nearly 100 more takeaways than giveaways and have faced the fewest opposing field-goal attempts in the NBA.
Contrary to popular belief, the Clippers can play in the half court. Many think that the slow-it-down, grind-it-out nature of the playoffs will derail the high-flying ways of Lob City, but in reality the Clippers play at a deliberate pace.
As a matter of fact, the Clips are the seventh-slowest team in the NBA according to John Hollinger's pace rankings. The half court nature of the playoffs shouldn't have a big effect.
At the beginning of the season, the Clippers were one of the worst rebounding teams in the entire league.
Over the course of the last 66 games, they completely turned that around, thanks in large part to in-season big-man additions Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans.
Rebounding is absolutely essential in the playoffs, and now the Clippers have the tools to keep the edge in that crucial category. They have the seventh-best total rebound rate and seventh-best rebound margin in the league. Plus, the Clips allow the second-fewest opponent rebounds per game.
L.A. has the fourth-best offensive rebound rate in the NBA. They are outstanding at giving themselves more opportunities to maximize every possession and control the flow of the game.
The biggest reason that the Clippers are a threat to advance to the Western Conference Finals is that they have Chris Paul leading them into the postseason.
In the playoffs, you need that all-world superstar to carry you on his back at times and be the spiritual and emotional leader for the entire team.
Paul is that guy for the Clips. He will arguably be the best player in every playoff series the Clippers go through in the West.
The All-Star point guard has posted the second-best PER in the NBA this season. He's also third in both value added and estimated wins added.
Paul is also a proven playoff performer. In two of his three previous trips to the postseason, he's posted the highest PER of any player in the playoffs.
And when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, forget about it. Paul is the best clutch player in the league. He's the only guy in the association in the top 10 in both scoring and assists per 48 minutes of clutch time. He is only assisted on two percent of his crunch-time baskets, showing how much of the work he does on his own.
Paul shoots 95 percent from the line in the clutch—also top 10—and is fourth in steals, proving he has the ability to win a close game on the defensive end as well.
As long as CP3 is playing at his usual MVP-caliber level, the Clippers will be a tough out in the postseason.