Last season, with the Clippers out of the playoffs, I decided it would be fun to keep tabs on all of the former Clippers in the NBA Playoffs. While the Clippers made it again this year, I figured that after their early exit, why not take another look? Once a Clipper, always a Clipper, right? Well, maybe. Let’s take a look at where some of our former friends are thriving (even the ones who Clipper Nation isn’t so fond of anymore). After looking at how everyone did in the first round and checking in on the second round last week, let’s check back in as these series wrap up and teams get ready for the conference finals.
East: 5. New York Knicks vs 8. Miami Heat (Heat lead 3-2)
Isaiah Hartenstein continues to feature for the Knicks, currently 7th on the team in minutes in this series against the Clipper-less Miami Heat. He’s made modest statistical contributions (2.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game) and the team hasn’t won his on-floor minutes since game 1, but he brings a noticeable energy when he checks in. His Knicks will be tested in an elimination road game 6.
East: 2. Boston Celtics vs 3. Philadelphia 76ers (Tied 3-3)
It hasn’t exactly been a riveting series for former Clipper big men, as Blake Griffin and Montrezl Harrell are the only 2 healthy players who haven’t appeared between the Celtics and Sixers (another former Clipper, Danilo Gallinari, is the only other player to not appear in this series as he remains out following ACL surgery last summer).
Former Clipper head coach Doc Rivers is potentially up to his old tricks, as the Sixers have now gone from 3-2 to a game 7 in Boston. Tobias Harris is also strugging, reaching double figures just once in the last 4 games with a pitiful 2 points on 1-7 shooting in Philly’s game 6 loss. It isn’t uncommon for role player shooting to swing game 7s–Tobias could be a big x-factor Sunday.
West: 1. Denver Nuggets vs 4. Phoenix Suns (Nuggets won 4-2)
Nuggets: There looked like a chance that Reggie Jackson could have an important role in Denver’s closeout game 6, as Nuggets starting point guard Jamal Murray was questionable with an illness. But Murray was ultimately available as Denver built a 30-point halftime lead and cruised back to the Western Conference Finals. Reggie did get to check in for the last few minutes of the closeout win, hitting a three for his first points of the series. DeAndre Jordan wasn’t so lucky, as he remained on the bench while younger Nuggets collected garbage time experience. And, of course, Jeff Green maintained his rotation role off the bench, again doing very little but (I guess) continuing to have a lower downside than Malone’s other options in that spot.
Suns: It’s undeniably sad for the sport when players miss big games with injuries, and that’s certainly the case for Clipper legend Chris Paul, who just can’t get through a playoff run healthy. He missed the last four games of this series, and with modest averages of 12.4 points and 7.4 assists on 42/32/50 shooting splits in this postseason, I’d expect Phoenix to try to move on at point guard in the offseason. Former Clipper prospect Landry Shamet was quiet in an increasing role as the Suns approached this series without Paul, though he did have a huge 19-point performance off the bench in Phoenix’s game 4 victory.
West: 6. Golden State Warriors vs 7. Los Angeles Lakers (Lakers lead 3-2)
Warriors: We talked last week about JaMychal Green’s fun spot start in the Warriors’ game 2 victory, as he scored 15 points in 12:32 of playing time. He had a less fun start in game 3, shooting 1-5 and finishing with a +/- of -10 in 11:28 in a 30-point Warriors loss, only got a couple of minutes off the bench in a narrow game 4 loss, and didn’t play in Golden State’s game 5 victory. Now the Warriors will head to a road game 6 of their own on Friday night as they attempt to bring the Lakers back north for a game 7 on Sunday. If they’re going to pull it off, I wouldn’t be shocked if Steve Kerr’s creativity in the chess match led to JaMyke getting another shot.
Lakers: Clipper COVID journeyman Wenyen Gabriel has played a consistent but tiny role off the bench for the Lakers behind Anthony Davis, totaling 1 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 2 fouls in 16 minutes across all 5 games in this series.
FCIT2023NBAPPR (Former Clippers In The 2023 NBA Playoffs Power Rankings)
(A purely subjective, mixed-criteria list where I rank former the former Clippers who have played in this year’s playoffs on a combination of how well they’re playing in this year’s playoffs–the most important factor–and their role, team success, importance to Clipper history, and how much I like them.)
- Tobias Harris (Preview: 1; even with a bad week, what other direction are we supposed to go?)
- Isaiah Hartenstein (Previous: 4; he’s really only this high for lack of competition)
- Jeff Green (Previous: 7; I can’t believe this)
- Chris Paul (Previous: 5; out now after another injury-riddled playoffs)
- Luke Kennard (Previous: 6; he’s out, but was effective in his role)
- Landry Shamet (Previous: 9; Landry has been underwhelming with an abundance of opportunity, but he did have a crucial performance in a close win, which is more than lots of guys can say)
- JaMychal Green (Previous: 2; his one big game turned out to be mostly just a blip on the radar, so he’s bumped back below the consistent rotation guys again)
- Doc Rivers (Previous: 3; a lot is riding on Sunday for Doc)
- Austin Rivers (Previous: 8; he didn’t get many chances but helped his team get his only playoff win before getting eliminated)
- Wenyen Gabriel (Previous: 11; he’s playing every night!)
- Reggie Jackson (Previous: 12; garbage time beats no time)
- DeAndre Jordan (Previous: 13)
- Blake Griffin (Previous: 10; DJ bumps ahead this week since he didn’t play in a series win and Blake hasn’t played and might not advance)
- Montrezl Harrell (Previous: 14; Doc Rivers doesn’t trust Montrezl Harrell. That should tell you all you need to know)
As far as I can tell, that’s it for former Clippers in the 2023 NBA Playoffs! Did I miss anyone who should be included in the next roundup? Who are you rooting for, and who are you rooting against? Is there anyone who you are most excited to follow over the coming weeks?
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