Gallery: 5 things Clippers must do post All-Star break
The Clippers hit the All-Star break next week, then make their push to rise up the Western Conference standings. If the Clippers are to get a good seed in the playoffs in the ultra tough conference, here are 5 things they need to do the rest of the season if they're to move from fifth in the standings.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
The Clippers must stay healthy
It's that time of season when injuries start cropping up, and already the Clippers' J.J. Redick is out with back spasms. Chris Paul has never played all 82 regular season games, but he has a goal to do that this year. If Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Co. can be free of injuries, the Clippers will be in good shape.
The Clippers must keep their composure
The Clippers have been assessed the most technical fouls (58) in the NBA, and Matt Barnes has the most of any player with 11. No matter the situation, the Clippers have to keep their composure and poise. Technical fouls, especially late, can turn a game -- the Clippers must be more poised.
DJ is having a monster season and is a consistent double-double machine. He could break Wilt Chamberlain's longtime field-goal percentage record of a 72.7 percent. Jordan has made 73.3 percent. But with the oft-used Hack-a-DJ strategy, he must be better at the free-throw line, where he's made just 39.2 percent of his free throws. He works hard at it, and Jordan hopes to find his groove, especially in clutch situations.
The defense needs plenty of work
While the Clippers are making a concerted effort on the defensive end, especially the bench, they must improve. Case in point, Cleveland made 60 percent of its shots from the field in the first half, where the Cavaliers had a dominant 65-42 lead. The Clippers have allowed opponents to shoot 45 percent from the field. Austin Rivers is needed more heavily to provide defensive depth off the bench, too.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
The bench needs to keep getting better
The bench will be a key factor in getting the Clippers into the playoffs, but once in the playoffs, Doc Rivers likely will use just an 8-man rotation. If Jamal Crawford is doing his usual sixth-man-of-the-year thing, Spencer Hawes must knock down open 3-pointers, and Austin Rivers must hit the outside jumper. "Big Baby" Davis can provide critical rest for Jordan, and as a unit, the defense needs to get stops so they can hold leads.