Chris Paul went down in the 2009 season which saw a rookie from UCLA fill in for the fallen all star, and do so quite brilliantly. Close to 5 years later, Darren Collison will be called upon once again to replace Chris Paul as CP3 has gone done with a right shoulder sprain which will keep him out for 3-5 weeks. Collison started off his stint as the primary point guard in top form scoring 20 points, including 8 for 8 from the line, in a 119-112 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Collison showed great control of the game, guiding the Clippers in their come from behind victory in hostile territory. While Collison’s performance deserves a lot of attention, DeAndre Jordan was the star of the contest tallying 25 points on 11 of 14 shooting and snagged 18 boards. This is Jordan’s first 20+ point performance of the season and his 9th such performance in his six year NBA career. It became apparent it was Jordan’s night late in the 4th quarter as he knocked down an 8 foot jumper, a shot that’s way out of his area code(seriously outside of two feet this dude is awful). I love DeAndre Jordan, he is a great personality and a good guy for team morale, but with Paul out the Clippers cannot expect Jordan to be the one who steps up his game offensively each night.
That brings us to Blake Griffin. Griffin tallied 25 points tonight as well, and will need to be scoring around that number in Paul’s absence as it is now his team for the next month or so. The offense will run through him, he is responsible for this teams success, and most importantly he will be the go to guy when they need a big bucket. In terms of game planning, Griffin will receive the superstar treatment from Doc Rivers. Also, Blake went 11-13 from the line tonight and continues to develop that part of his game, which is good news for Clippers fans.
In the Western Conference there are no nights off, which means for the Clippers it is next man up. It might need to be a different guy each night, but with arguably the 3rd best player in the league absent, every man on the roster needs to elevate their game. Crawford, Collison, Dudley, Barnes, and Green are all guys who will be called on in the coming weeks. This is especially true due to a 7 game east coast road starting January 17th, which has them match up with 5 teams who would currently make the playoffs in the eastern conference, including the Pacers, Pistons, and red hot Raptors.
Finally, Doc Rivers and his staff will need to step it up in the absence of CP3. Paul is known for his on court leadership, and essentially coached the team last year when Vinny Del Negro was the head of the Clips. Paul is a coaches dream, and makes their job a lot easier. Doc will have much more of an active role now in Paul’s absence. In this offense, point guard play dictates the success in this team, so the communication between Collison and Rivers might be the biggest thing to look for in this next month. One thing is certain in these coming weeks, if the team does not come together and approach each game with a next man up mentality, they could see themselves take in unfavorable drop in the Eastern Conference standings heading in to the month of February.