Clippers vs. Lakers: Victory Proves Clippers' Championship Credentials

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Clippers vs. Lakers: Victory Proves Clippers' Championship Credentials
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For the first time since the two teams moved to the same city, the Los Angeles Clippers have swept the Los Angeles Lakers in a season series (via official Los Angeles Clippers' Twitter page). The Clippers won 109-95 in a season filled with organizational records.

Perhaps most important of all, the Clippers proved their championship credentials with this victory.

The Clippers achieved victory behind phenomenal performances by their trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford. Paul tallied 24 points and 12 assists, Griffin had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Crawford dropped 20 points while coming off of the bench.

In turn, the Clippers won their first-ever divisional title.

The Clippers have also topped 50 wins for the first time in franchise history.

The question on everyone's mind, however, is whether or not the Clippers are division champions or potential NBA champions. That is reasonable, as the Clippers have never won a title as an organization.

With that being said, this is a different Clippers team—they are legitimate.

 

It All Starts on D

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Contrary to popular belief, the Los Angeles Clippers do not win by way of their alley-oops and offensive explosiveness. Instead, L.A. dominates the opposition as a result of their smothering defense.

For the season, they're allowing 94.8 points per game. That was on display against the Los Angeles Lakers, as they held their high-scoring opposition to 95 points.

That's exactly why they're in position to make a run to the title.

The Clippers held their rival Lakers to 43.4 percent shooting from the field during their 109-95 win. That, again, is a sign of what they've done all season, as they are holding opponents to 44.5 percent shooting from the floor.

That is good for 10th in the NBA.

 

Explosive Offense

You know how we told you that the Los Angeles Clippers did not win games with their offensive prowess? As true as that may be, we'd be out of our minds to believe that L.A.'s offense wasn't a major factor.

They're eighth in the NBA in points per game, fifth in field-goal percentage, eighth in free-throw attempts and fourth in assists per game.

This was on full display against the Lakers, as they scored 109 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the field. They also dished out 26 assists, led by Paul's 12 dimes and Griffin's five.

As the numbers display, the Clippers are dominant and efficient.

Those are the two factors that prove to be most valuable come the NBA postseason, as teams must be able to score against elite defenses. That's something that Clippers can do, as they move the ball around the perimeter and push the tempo in transition.

When you can defend as well as the Clippers and still produce at an elite level on offense, you're a legitimate title contender.

 

The X-Factors

USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the NBA postseason, teams that have stars often out-duel opponents that don't. Fortunately for the Los Angeles Clippers, they have three prime-time performers ready and able.

Paul is an MVP candidate, Griffin is a three-time All-Star and Crawford is a former Sixth Man of the Year.

Paul, who is widely believed to be the best point guard in the NBA, is averaging 16.9 points, 9.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Due to Rajon Rondo's season-ending injury, CP3 is on pace to finish the season as the NBA's assists and steals leader.

Paul is the type of player that could lead a team to the title.

Griffin, meanwhile, is a consistent double-double threat with a rapidly developing low-post game. Between he and Crawford's elite scoring abilities, the Clippers have the supporting stars necessary to make a run.

Paired with the previously alluded to factors, L.A. has the makings of a legitimate title contender.

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