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Before the 12-13 Season begins, I am going to do a preview of what to expect from each player on the Clippers’ roster, based on their respective places in the rotation. First is Travis Leslie.
Travis Leslie, it’s safe to say, did not get on the court much last year. In fact, out of all players in the NBA who were with a team for a full season, Travis had the fewest minutes played with 45. 45 minutes of game time. As such, no one really knows what to expect from him. With no summer league last year, the Clippers and their fans were hoping to see Travis play against borderline NBA-level competition this year at the Vegas Summer League. Unfortunately, Travis was injured and missed the entire slate of games. Thus, no one has seen him really play in over a year.
Based solely off his physical profile, Travis has the potential to be an NBA-level perimeter defender; he’s an amazing athletic specimen. To get to that point, though, he has to learn the intricacies of the professional game. So far, it doesn’t look like that’s happened yet. When I went to the Jan. 1 game at home against Portland, Travis looked quite out of place during warm-ups. He didn’t look sure of himself, and his jumper never fell. To be fair, that was nearly eight months ago. But no matter how one slices it, Travis Leslie still hasn’t shown that he can play at the NBA level.
With his speed, quickness, leaping ability, and wingspan, Travis looks like he can be an NBA rotation player. However, he hasn’t shown that ability yet, and he probably won’t get that chance this season either; the roster is looking pretty stacked right about now. If and when he does get to play, it will most likely be at the tail end of blowouts against weak competition. With this year being the last of his (already unguaranteed) contract, there’s a relatively high probability that if Travis Leslie does ever prove himself at this level, it won’t be with the Clippers.
Which is a shame, because I like the kid and he’s best friends with the next player on this list.
On to San Antonio for Game One of Round 2. It was violent, brutal basketball today. No calls either way, everything was a battle. But who pulled it out? Not Griffin. Not Paul. Not Jordan or Butler or Foye. This game was won by KMart, SwaggyP, Reggie, and the bulldog, Bled. Sure, the starters (especially Paul) contributed. But without the bench shutting down the Grizzlies and scoring in bunches, pushing the pace and attacking the glass, no way the Clippers win this game.
Now they’re going to go to San Antonio and play the polar opposite of this series: everything is going to be called. Every little bit of contact. But the Clippers are going to be dishing out a lot of it.
Gets away with everything. He’s just cheating out there.
The guy has a broken left hand. He was supposed to be out 4-6 weeks, but he barely stayed out6 days. Not only is he inspiring his teammates merely by showing up on the court, he scored 11 points at the opening of the game when nothing was going the Clippers’ way. He had a monster slam off a cut, a big, contested three immediately following one by Memphis, and swamped Rudy Gay yet again. All this with one hand!
It would be remiss to overlook the fact that he missed all of the playoffs last season, and nearly missed them this season. But they don’t call him Tuff Juice for nothing, clearly. It’s my opinion that he had a big hand (no pun intended) in swinging both Game 3 and Game 4.
Clippers go up 3-1 and look good doing it! Unfortunate it had to go to overtime, but hey, all the calls were going against them, and Gay and Conley were hitting some crazy shots (Gay is known for that, Conley less so) and they still pulled it out! Griffin was crazy good at scoring, going every which way with impeccable footwork. He didn’t even take a jumper the entire game. Only 5 rebounds, but he matched Paul with 7 assists, all of them big ones.
Can’t wait until Wednesday! Clippers in 5 would be AWESOME (but I think they win it in 6)!
4th Quarter Free Throws:
And with the Lakers’ remaining schedule? I think the Clippers could end up with the division title and the 3rd seed – setting up a potential second round series with the 2nd seed OKC Thunder. Yeah. 2nd seed. And the Clippers are the only team in the NBA that beat the Thunder three times this season. Not that regular season series ever correlate to postseason play…
But I’d be really really happy with a Western Conference Finals appearance this season.
For the Clippers yet… as they could face any number of teams in the first round. And there are only 6 games left! The stretch run is here! The division is still in play, too. As is home court advantage in the first round.
As an aside, Eric Gordon is back for the Hornets, and since he’s been back, they’ve won 3 of 4. I miss EJ… wish he could still be a Clipper.
But I’d still rather have Chris Paul. He is a legitimate MVP candidate.
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