The Clippers have never made it past the second round of the playoffs in their 45 years of existence, including the last three seasons with the core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
NBA Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley said he held only one of those players blameless for the Clippers’ recent inability to make a deep playoff push as they prepare to open the first round Sunday at Staples Center against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
“Chris Paul is the reason they’re winning. He’s not the reason they’re losing [in the postseason],” Barkley said Thursday during a conference call in advance of the playoffs. “He has to do so much for that team because you can’t get the ball to DeAndre, who is a hell of a player, but you can’t give him the ball. I would be curious to see the last time he scored when he didn’t dunk.
“I would love for somebody to go back and look at the entire season and count DeAndre Jordan’s baskets and I bet you it’s probably been [a ratio of] 90 to 10, dunks to making a shot.”
Barkley was just getting started with his criticism of Clippers stars not named Paul.
“Blake, to me, I like Blake a lot as a player but he has not become better in the halfcourt,” Barkley said. “He’s become a jump shooter. And that goes back to those guys at Golden State. If I’m guarding Blake, I want him to shoot jumpers, because if he comes toward me full speed or posts me up, I’m going to have to get in foul trouble.
“Every time he shoots a jump shot, the defender is saying, ‘Thank God, he shot a jumper.’ So if he keeps saying he wants to round his game, screw that, man. You get to the basket, you get layups, dunks, you get the other team in foul trouble.”
Barkley called the series between the Clippers and Spurs a tossup but said the Spurs did themselves a disservice Wednesday by losing their regular-season finale, which dropped them into the No. 6 seeding and put them in the position of probably having to win three consecutive series without homecourt advantage to make the NBA Finals for a third straight season.
“I think the Spurs took a big hit,” Barkley said. “I don’t think anybody can win three straight series on the road because they’re just too rugged in the Western Conference.”