The Los Angeles Clippers bench is currently averaging the most points (42.7) of any team’s bench since 2000.
Here is the 2012-2013 Clippers bench:
- C, Ronny Turiaf (12 min), former Celtic-legend Ryan Hollins (11 min)
- PF, Lamar Odom (17.5 min, 23 min/game in December)
- SF, Matt Barnes (25.7 min)
- SG, Jamal Crawford (29.3 min)
- PG, Eric Bledsoe (18.4 min).
The Clippers are currently 22-6 heading into tonight’s game with the Celtics, having won 14 straight games. In addition to leading the league in bench points, the Clippers bench is dominating on the defensive end. According to hoopstats.com, the Clippers are leading the NBA in bench steals (4.9), are 2nd in bench blocks (3.7) and are 1st in efficiency (a stat that combines pretty much everything) and efficiency difference. Opposing bench units have been held to 5.8 assists (4th), and have been forced into a league-worst 6.1 turnovers per game against the Clippers. While some of the numbers are slightly inflated due to the fact that Los Angeles plays its reserves more minutes (21.7) than the average team, Clippers opponents are playing their own bench players fewer minutes (16.9) than league-average (17.8). Defensively, the Clippers depth has been wreaking havoc on opponents. Both Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes create headaches with their tenacious ball-pressure and their physicality. Lamar Odom’s rebounding ability and length pose problems for opponents. Odom’s minutes have gone up as he plays himself into game shape. Odom’s resurgence (he left Dallas thinking he might leave the NBA this past summer) and Matt Barnes’ inspired play (reminiscent of his 2006-2007 season with Golden State) could be the keys to the Clippers’ playoff hopes this spring.
How many NBA teams have a starting five that are clearly better than the Clippers reserves? My quick guess would be about half of the NBA’s 29 other teams. My list of the starting units is exactly the top 7 teams in each conference. OKC, San Antonio, LAL, Memphis, Golden State, Denver, Houston in the West. Miami, New York, Atlanta, Indiana, Chicago, Boston, Brooklyn in the East. I’m knocking Milwaukee out because Brooklyn’s starting five is better than Milwaukee’s assuming Brook Lopez and Deron Williams are healthy. In essence, one can make a case that the Clippers reserves are better than half of the NBA’s starting units.
Which brings us to tonight’s game vs Boston:
How can the Celtics minimize the damage the Clippers bench might inflict?
- Control the ball. Limiting turnovers to the quick hands of Bledsoe, Barnes and Odom will help.
- Keep Odom off the glass. (Throughout the Clippers last 11 games—all wins—Odom has played at least 20 minutes in all but one game, averaging 7.5 boards in those 11 games).
In all likelihood, the Celtics will get killed by Odom tonight. Energetic bigs such as Larry Sanders, Joakim Noah and Tiago Splitter have demolished the Celtics all season. We may get a chance to see if Jarvis Varnado can have any impact if Odom starts dominating Sullinger early.