NBA playoff time is when real basketball players show how great they are, and the pretenders quickly fall by the wayside. Some young, talented players may provide less than overwhelming performances, but if they are as good as advertised, they come back again and again, and either prove or disprove their true talent.
|The NBA regular season is a joke, especially in the decrepit, moribund Eastern Conference, where talentless teams steamroll to great-looking won-lost records built against minor-league quality competitors, and absolutely awful teams make the post season. I wrote a lot earlier in the NBA season about the team of untalented pretenders in Toronto, and boy, did I get flamed on ESPN.com and elsewhere. "Our Raptors are GREAT!" they exclaimed, "How Dare You say||
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Well, a lot of these same people, among others, have said similar things about the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, especially after their second-round exit last season. This year, in an amazing, action-packed and exciting seven game series against the defending champion Spurs, Griffin was fabulous and Paul was beyond amazing, especially as he put the Clippers on his back to pull them to victory in Saturday’s deciding game, despite having suffered a serious hamstring injury that would have put a lessor competitor on the bench, and which will likely limit his playing time against the Houston Rockets in the second round series beginning in an hour.
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|As this series unfolds, the undermanned Clippers with their extremely thin bench cannot afford to have Paul miss any significant playing time, and they need to have similar intense and consistent performances from not only Paul and Griffin, but also from their third key starter, who has a chance now to earn the recognition that he has earned but which has eluded him so far. That guy is DeAndre Jordan, and he is the key going up against the laughing man, Deeee-Wight Howard if|
If Paul cannot play at all in two or more games, the Clippers would have little chance of taking the series, and while Clippers’ guards must defend James Harden, keeping him from taking over any significant part of any game in the series, the number one game-within-the-game is Jordan v the laughing man, and that is where the series will likely be decided.