Los Angeles Clippers: 5 Keys for a Return to the Postseason

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Los Angeles Clippers: 5 Keys for a Return to the Postseason
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers are coming off a successful year in which they reached the second round of the NBA playoffs before getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

For fans of a team that has been the laughingstock of the league for many years, this had to be considered a step in the right direction. And yet, it feels like there's so much more to accomplish.

The team has one of the premier point guards in the league in Chris Paul, a high-flying star in Blake Griffin and a defensive anchor at center in DeAndre Jordan.

The Clips posted a 40-26 record in the strike-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, good enough to earn them the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They also finished just a game behind the third place Los Angeles Lakers.

This year's Clippers team is as talented as any other squad in the history of the franchise, and they're behind only the Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder in terms of star power in the West.

But several questions loom large. Can they build an early lead in their division as the Lakers are possibly struggling to gel? Is Chris Paul planning to stay in L.A. beyond this season? Will Griffin remain a highlight-reel guy only, or can he improve in all phases of the game?

Coach Vinny Del Negro enters the final year of his own contract, and the pressure to succeed is greater than ever.

Here are five keys that will ultimately determine how far this Clippers team can go.

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