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Mbah a Moute might help. The Clippers have discussed pairing Paul with Raymond Felton and Austin Rivers in quicker lineups that might skitter through the Golden State labyrinth. It is hard to play Crawford against Golden State’s core groups, though he is adamant he can manage. “That’s always the question with me,” Crawford said. “I can look you dead in the eye and say I can do it.”
Even if he can’t, it’s unfathomable — without fathom! — that the solution to upsetting the Warriors involves extra heapings of Felton and the junior Rivers.
Three of their core four players — Paul, Griffin, and Redick — enter free agency this summer, assuming Paul and Griffin exercise early termination options. Paul and Redick are on the wrong side of the aging curve; Jordan and Griffin, bouncy types who rely to varying degrees on their athleticism, aren’t that far behind.
Rivers the president has left the cupboard nearly barren of young players and draft picks. If Paul or Griffin leaves, it is unclear how the Clippers can maintain a 55-win team. The Clippers present perhaps the best human drama of the 2016-17 season: can a great team heal its fractures, and find the best version of itself, before it’s too late?
Divided teams rarely survive the playoffs. The Clippers showed real mettle in outlasting San Antonio during their epic seven-game series two seasons ago, but they have quaked in other pressurized situations– including in their inexplicable collapse against a plainly inferior Houston team one round later. In frantic moments, great teams find calm — a collective trust, and a desire to win for each other.
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“With us,” Paul said, “it will all be about how we respond to adversity.”