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Blake Griffin.

The Los Angeles Clippers' collapse shows the importance of Chris Paul

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When Chris Paul decided to leave the Los Angeles Clippers in the summer, reports began to surface about his relationship with his former teammates. 

CP3 reportedly clashed with fellow stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as well as other members of the team on numerous occasions during his six years in L.A.

Austin Rivers recently described the relationship between Paul and Griffin as "weird" in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins.

“The dynamic with Blake and Chris was weird. I don’t know why. It was just strange," he said. "No one knew who the leader was, and if you had something to say, it would turn into an argument."

With Paul gone and Blake taking over as the leader of the team, they may be happier without the point guard but they're certainly not better without him. 

Losing streak

After starting the campaign with four straight wins, some had declared that the Clippers would be fine without Paul or possibly even better.

But now that Los Angeles is in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, it's clear to see that's not the case as they've come crashing back down to earth.

Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks

The veteran guard brought a toughness and competitive spirit that is severely lacking on the current roster. 

The nine-time All-Star is a winner and was able to lead them to six consecutive winning seasons and playoff appearances while he was the floor general at Staples Center.

In the first campaign without him, the Clippers seem to be collapsing and could potentially finish below .500 and fail to make it to the postseason in a difficult Western Conference.

On Monday night, they put in a miserable performance against the New York Knicks as they were thumped 107-85 at Madison Square Garden. 

Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks

Patrick Beverley - who was part of the trade that sent Paul to the Houston Rockets - lashed out at his new teammates following the game and pointed out a few things he didn't like. 

“Straight up. This ... is weak. This ain’t how I roll. That ain’t OK and I won’t allow it to be OK as long as I’m here. That’s a fact,” Beverley said, per the L.A. Times.

"We just got to play harder. You get rid of the mistakes by playing hard. We’re not playing hard; the first unit, not the whole team. I challenged the first unit to play harder.

"We have to be more mature and I don’t think we’re mature enough yet. We too cool. We too cool. We come in this game, we come on the court like people are supposed to back down because of the name on the back of our jerseys and that’s not the case.

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers

"The only thing people are looking at is the name on the front of our jersey, and that’s nine losses in a row.”

Beverley is one of the toughest and fiercest competitors in the league and it hasn't taken him long to see that other members on the roster don't put in the same effort levels that he does.

Not having the playmaking abilities of Paul is, unsurprisingly, proving to be a huge problem for the Clips.

Horrible offence

To be fair to the franchise, the man they brought in to be their playmaker has been ruled out since the second game of the season. 

BASKETBALL-OLY-2016-RIO-SRB-USA

Serbian rookie Milos Teodosic is one of the best passers in basketball and developed a reputation as an elite ball-handler in the Euroleague and on the international stage. 

With him on the floor, the Clippers were playing at a fast pace and had a specific style that was working well for them. 

Since his injury, they've been without a playmaker and their offence has struggled hugely. LA is averaging only 19.0 assists per game, which is the third worst in the NBA.

They're playing at a slower pace with less ball movement and it often leads to isolation plays on the perimeter or dumping the ball into Griffin on the post in the hope that he can score or create for others. 

Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Clippers

With Beverley, Teodosic and even Danilo Gallinari missing time with injuries, it's maybe unfair to judge them until they have their full lineup on the floor. 

But CP was often able to will them to victories even with players out, especially in recent years when Griffin has suffered multiple injuries. 

They say you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone and the Clippers are certainly beginning to feel that now.

Topics:
NBA
Chris Paul
L.A. Clippers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
DeAndre Jordan
Blake Griffin

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