The Los Angeles Clippers will square off with the Portland Trailblazers in the First Round of the NBA playoffs. The Clippers showed a lot of toughness throughout an injury plagued campaign that saw much of the season played without All Star Blake Griffin. The team still managed to get a top four seed and can compete with any team in the league. The Trailblazers were expected by most to miss the playoffs completely this season after losing 4 starters to free agency in the offseason. However point guard Damian Lillard continued to show that he deserves to be mentioned amongst the top point guards and C. J McCollum joined him in the backcourt to score over 20 points per game after being a bench player last season.
POINT GUARD – Chris Paul vs. Damian Lillard
Paul has been one of the best regular season point guards in the history of the league, however the post season has been a different story. His teams have repeatedly failed, often in the first round. He has also been directly responsible for poor late game decision making on several occasions. He is over 30 years old now and has a limited amount of time left as an elite player. Lillard is nothing short of spectacular, he has led what was supposed to be a lottery team to a 5th seed in the West and as long as he has the ball he team will always have a chance.
Shooting Guard- J.J Reddick vs. C.J McCollum
This was arguably Reddick’s best season in the NBA. He remains one of the best catch and shoot players in the league and has added an improved ability to both shoot off the dribble and drive to the basket. McCollum has burst onto the scene this season showing the ability he had displayed in college. He is explosive while creating havoc on the defensive end as well.
Small Forward- Jeff Green vs. Al- Farouq Aminu
Green has fit in very well since being acquired at the trading deadline. He may see the majority of the minutes at small forward since Paul Pierce has looked like a shell of himself all season long. Aminu improved throughout the season and sparks the team on both ends of the floor.
Power Forward- Blake Griffin vs. Noah Vonleh
Griffin is just getting back from injury so rust and conditioning are a concern. He is also going to need to get his chemistry back with his teammates quick. Vonleh is a good player who improved in his second season. He may see more minutes with an injury to backup Myers Leonard
Advantage – Clippers
Center- Deandre Jordan vs. Mason Plumlee
Jordan was phenomenal after an adventurous off-season that almost had him in a Mavericks uniform. He played at an MVP level while Griffin was out and how he and Griffin play together now that he is healthy will ultimately determine the team’s success. Plumlee played well and provides athleticism to the frontcourt.
Portland has Ed Davis and Allen Crabbe who had career seasons off the bench and that is about it. The Clippers have veterans like Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, and Wesley Johnson who are all capable scorers.
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