5 Steps to Slowing Down the Los Angeles Clippers

Allen Levin@@TheNBAllenCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2012

5 Steps to Slowing Down the Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Los Angeles Clippers have proven to be the class of the Western Conference as we approach the halfway mark of the NBA season. 

    Since a four-game losing streak in late November, the Clippers have won 1 consecutive games and have gone undefeated in the month of December. 

    The Clips are the best team in the league right now, but they have shown some common trends in their six losses. 

    When L.A.'s defense is lackluster, Chris Paul isn't facilitating at his normal level or the Clippers aren't shooting well from three-point land, it usually results in a loss. 

    The Clippers have played spectacular in December, but their four-game losing streak showcased how "Lob City" can be slowed down. 

Stop the Clippers Bench

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    The Los Angeles Clippers' bench has been a primary reason for the team's success this season. 

    At 42.5 points per game, the Clippers have the league's top-scoring second unit. 

    L.A. relies heavily on the production from Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, who are the team's second and fourth leading scorers, respectively. 

    However, when Crawford, Barnes and the rest of the Clippers bench is shut down, it usually doesn't bode well for them. 

    In L.A.'s six defeats this season, the bench has posted 33 points per game, nearly 10 points under their average. 

    In losses against the Warriors and Hornets, the Clippers bench was outscored, while Barnes and Eric Bledsoe turned in extremely subpar performances.

    If the Clippers' reserves don't play like the best in the league, then there is a good chance Los Angeles isn't coming out on top. 

Light the Clippers Up from Beyond the Arc

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    The Clippers allow opponents to shoot 36.3 percent from the three-point line, which is in the bottom half of the league. 

    While L.A. boasts one of the top defenses in the NBA, its perimeter D could use some work.

    In six losses this season, the Clippers have let opponents shoot a whopping 46 percent from beyond the arc. 

    In the Clips' last loss before their 17-game victory streak, they allowed the Hornets to shoot 60 percent (15-of-25) from the perimeter. 

    Opposing teams register the most success against L.A. when they are exposing their perimeter defense. When the Clippers allow teams to shoot well, their defense becomes out of sync and the end result is a game where L.A.'s high-octane offense gets outgunned. 

Limit Chris Paul's Facilitation

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    Chris Paul is nearly averaging a double-double this season at 16.2 points and 9.4 assists per game, and is trailing only Rajon Rondo for top passer in the league. 

    L.A.'s offensive game is running best when CP3 is creating opportunities for his teammates. In the Clippers' losses this season, Paul's average goes down to 8.6 dimes per contest, and he has posted 10 or more assists in just one of those games. 

    It's no easy task shutting down Paul, but if his defender can limit his facilitation, there is a good shot the Clippers won't be successful. 

Score over 100 Points

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    The Los Angeles Clippers boast the fourth best scoring defense in the NBA, allowing just 92.1 points per game. 

    Teams have trouble scoring 100 plus points on the Clippers, as DeAndre Jordan, Matt Barnes and Chris Paul anchor a stout L.A. defense. 

    However, Los Angeles has allowed an average of 105.7 points per game in their losses this year, giving up 105 or more points in four of those defeats. 

    So, if an opponent can manage hitting the century mark against the Clips, there is a good chance they'll be in the win column. 

Get Them into a Close Game

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    While much has been made of the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game winning streak, little has been said about how sparsely they've actually been challenged in that span. 

    Other than their close victory over the Utah Jazz last Friday, no opponent has been within one basket of the Clippers in the final minute since the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 11.

    That's not exactly a negative, but it does pose a certain inexperience when it comes to narrow games. 

    Grind-it-out games are crucial come playoff time, and L.A. isn't exactly racking up the experience when it comes to those contests. 

    The Clippers lead the NBA in point differential at 10.1, as getting victories is seemingly appearing easy for them. 

    While there is no evidence to say that the Clippers would fare poorly in close games, they might not be as successful if they find themselves in that situation due strictly to lack of experience. 

    So, if opponents can implement the above-stated steps, they might actually be in the game with L.A. in the fourth quarter, and we will be able to see how the Clippers hang in grind-it-out situations.