It finally happened. After 59 games, the Clippers have their first three-game losing streak. It was split up by the All-Star break, and the first two losses of the skid were understandable. A loss to Philly on the road without Pat Bev is acceptable, and then a loss to Boston on the road without Pat Bev and without Paul George for most of the game is also acceptable. However, what many fans are deeming unacceptable is dropping the first game back against the Kings.
The Clippers are in a seeding battle. As it so often plays out in the Western Conference, the differences in seeding will be determined by just a game or two. The fans feel this urgency, as they saw the Clippers miss avoiding Golden State by just one win last season after dropping multiple winnable games down the stretch.
This season looks to be no different, as just 2.5 games separate seeds 2-5. With the Clippers sitting at 3rd, they are one game back of Denver and one game up on both Houston and Utah. That brings us to where we are a today. Home against Memphis.
Home against the even .500 and 8-seed Grizzlies should be an easy one right? If the last matchup between these two teams is any indication, that will not be the case. Memphis beat the Clippers in STAPLES Center on January 4th by a final score of 140-114.
Both teams look much different now than they did then, as the leading scorer for Memphis in that game is now in Miami. Jae Crowder, the 9.9 PPG scorer, went for 27 that afternoon and poured in six threes on his way to doing so. For anyone who has watched enough Clippers basketball, that sounds about right.
Part of the issue that game, aside from the 140 points surrendered, was that the Clippers were without Paul George and in his absence, Kawhi shot just 8/24. Two things are true about that game, the first is that Memphis exploding for 140, which is still their season high, is about as unlikely as Avery Bradley hitting a contested long two. It happens, but not very often. The same goes for Kawhi’s poor shooting night. If it takes an explosion from Memphis and an off night from Kawhi to repeat what we saw in January, the Clippers are in better shape than some may think.
There is still no official word on whether or not Pat Bev and PG are suiting up, but the last we heard was that they are both questionable. If they don’t play, as we have seen, any game is losable. This is a Memphis team looking to stop a three-game skid of their own, so the Clippers must come out focused.
With no Jaren Jackson and obviously no Jae Crowder, Memphis is losing 51 of the 140 they dropped last time. The Clippers are coming into this one with even more fire power than last time. Maurice Harkless and Jerome Robinson have essentially been replaced by Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson. While these upgrades are substantial, the biggest upgrade must come from an energy standpoint. If the Clippers do that, this losing streak will end.
Let’s get one!