Pick and roll. Isolation. High-low. Back door. Post-up. Triple post. These are all basic terms related to an offense in basketball and can be heard over and over during an NBA broadcast. When the playoffs arrive, opposing defenses know your every tendency, so the complexity of an offense needs to rise to another level.
The Clippers are in the midst of a classic playoff battle against a team that is known for their defensive pressure. That team is the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers' offense looks pretty much the same as it did during the regular season. There are only two terms needed to describe their offense: athleticism and Chris Paul.
Although the Clippers' offense is the same as it was during the regular season, they are indeed having some success against the Grizzlies, but the reason for that is their effort has risen to another level, therefore allowing their natural athleticism to become an asset.
The Clippers are a very young team with some extraordinary athletes. Besides the Oklahoma City Thunder, they are probably the fastest and most athletic team in the league.
Because of that outstanding athleticism, they have garnered the nickname of Lob City, because of the overwhelming amount of lobs and dunks they pull off during the course of a game. But that style of play isn't necessarily the best for going deep into the playoffs.
The playoffs are usually very physical and played at a slower pace, especially in the fourth quarter. That's usually when the Clippers' other offense takes over: the Chris Paul offense. He is one of the best point guards in the league and can usually break his man down, get past his man and either create an open shot for himself or find an open teammate for a timely basket.
But remember, these are the playoffs. Opposing teams know your tendencies. They are making it extremely hard for Paul to bail the Clippers out time and time again at the end of games. This is where Clippers coach Vinnie Del Negro needs to create an offense or set of plays to put his best players in position to be successful. That hasn't happened yet.
What has happened is Paul suffered an injury to his groin. He aggravated his same groin that was injured down the stretch of the regular season and caused him to miss the last two weeks of the season. Paul is simply being overworked. He needs help—not from his teammates because they are playing about as hard as they can, but from his coach.
The stagnant offense was even more evident when Paul sat out the last minute of Game 5 of their first-round series versus the Grizzlies.
Mo Williams ran the offense and tried to do as Paul usually does, creating something out of nothing. When he couldn't, he passed off to Randy Foye, who tried to pull off the same act. No success. The Clippers once again were in the midst of a tremendous comeback, this time shaving a 24-point lead down to eight.
If Paul is not able to play effectively in Game 6 in Los Angeles because of his injury, the Grizzlies will be heavy favorites to win and will force the series back to Memphis for a deciding Game 7.
Even if the Clippers pull off the win and are able to move on to the Western Conference Semifinals and take on the San Antonio Spurs, who finished their first-round series by sweeping the Utah Jazz, there may need to be a change at the helm in the offseason.
Many teams will be looking toward the draft and the free-agent market to improve their team. The Clippers may need to either hire a new assistant coach to up grade and help with the offense, or maybe hire a new head coach altogether.