The Los Angeles Clippers' shocking win over the Miami Heat last night was significant for many reasons. It snapped the Heat's 13-game road winning streak, preventing them from breaking a record. It was a true statement on the starpower of Blake Griffin, who emerged as the most noteworthy player on the floor despite battling back spasms.
But if you hadn't been following the Clippers all season, it was also probably a bit weird. These are the Clippers, after all. They aren't supposed to be playing a more entertaining brand of basketball than athletic freaks like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But they did last night, in the same way they have all season, and it was awesome.
So it's time to face facts. Right now, the Clippers are clearly the league's most entertaining team.
Much is that is due to Griffin, of course. We know about the awesome dunks, but there are so many subtle things that make Griffin so awesome. It's the way he's capable of making a rebound -- a rebound! -- into a highlight-worthy play. It's the way he secures those rebounds "like a vertical bulldozer," as Free Darko described him. It's the way he goes all out on every possession, playing with a reckless abandon that we don't see from many players. It's the way he's not afraid to lead his fellow teammates, even though many are older than him.
But it's not just Griffin. The other pieces on this roster are such a pleasure to take in too. There's DeAndre Jordan, a raw big man who has learned that his calling card in the NBA is to set picks, take up space and finish strong around the rim. There's Eric Gordon, who has all the tricks offensively and might be the most consistent scorer in the league that nobody knows about. There's rookie backup point guard Eric Bledsoe, who did this to LeBron last night.
Even the much-maligned pieces on the team are fun to watch now. Baron Davis still takes dumb shots, but now, he's free to set up his high-flying stars for dunks, all with the old Baron smile on his face. Vinny Del Negro still can't manage a rotation or make in-game coaching adjustments, but he's the rare coach that has no problem letting his young players play and be themselves. Together, all the pieces add up to the kind of package that even non-NBA fans have to appreciate.
It's tough to tell whether the Clippers are actually a good team or merely an entertaining one. They are playing better, but they dug themselves such a hole that making the playoffs could be too tall of an order. But all that means is that you should catch them while you can before their season ends. Trust me, you'll enjoy the ride.