213 Hoops baby. It’s like a breath of fresh air. No longer are we at the mercy of a billion dollar holding company that milks underpaid bloggers for ad revenue then treats them like loose ocean flotsam after a rainstorm. The ball is in our court now and we are going to crush it for you all. Don’t forget to contribute on Patreon and follow us on Twitter @213hoops if you don’t already. The Clips are going to be battling for a championship while we write all about it. Going to be an incredibly fun second half of the season. Stay tuned!
This week: 4, Last week: 4
Notes: “Paul George is back after missing nine games due to a hamstring injury. The best thing he did last week, however, was his moving voiceover before the Clippers’ game against the Kings on Thursday, the first NBA game at Staples Center since Kobe Bryant’s death. The Clippers have handled the tragic situation with their co-tenants with class and grace, best exemplified by the subtle touch of not covering Bryant’s retired jerseys for the remainder of the season.”
This week: 3, Last week: N/A
Notes: “The Clippers are lurking in what has thus far been a quiet trade season. Los Angeles still has its 2020 first rounder, plus a slate of movable contracts. Mo Harkless makes $11 million. JayMychal Green and Rodney McGruder come in just a shade under $5 million. As contenders struggle to match contracts, the Clippers are ready to strike.”
This week: 5, Last week: 5
Notes: “Saturday’s 118-106 win over Minnesota featured Kawhi Leonard’s ninth straight 30-point game and marked just the second time this season that the Clippers had their entire 10-man rotation healthy and available. Considering the Wolves’ total check-out over the last few weeks, L.A. probably could have rested its entire 10-man rotation and won anyway.
It’s important for the Clips to show what they can do with all hands on deck. More than any other team, their regular season is only as valuable as the glimpses it offers into what things will look like come playoff time. Saturday’s indication: They’ll look pretty darn good. It’s hard to get past losses to Atlanta and Sacramento in January, but the Clips are 7-2 in their last nine games and still have a top-five offense on the year. With Paul George back, the defense, disappointingly mediocre to this point, will be better.
The Clippers sent away almost every young player and future pick in the war chest this past summer, so you’d better believe they’re focused on the present. Moe Harkless can still defend, but L.A. should be on the hunt for a higher-volume shooter who can do something off the dribble to replace him.
Perhaps more importantly, the Clips could use a closer at center. Ivica Zubac lacks mobility, and Montrezl Harrell isn’t the most reliable defender inside.
Deadline Status: Buyer
This week: 4, Last week: N/A
Notes: “Kawhi Leonard (lower back tightness), who was a late scratch Thursday, returned from a one-game absence on Saturday and racked up 31 points, six rebounds, four assists and four 3-pointers in just 24 minutes. Saturday was only the second time all season LA has had their entire 10-man rotation fully healthy. (The other time was Christmas Day against the Lakers.) Kawhi has now scored 30+ points in nine straight games, which is the longest streak of his career. The Clippers all-time franchise record is 11 consecutive contests, held by World B. Free.”
This week: 5, Last week: 4
Notes: “Buy or sell? Need to buy. We’ve only seen two games this season in which the Clippers have had their expected 10-man rotation healthy, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha. While the Clippers slow play getting ready for the postseason, it’s hard to know what to expect out of them because we just haven’t seen all of these guys on the court together that often. We’ve only seen Kawhi Leonard and Paul George play in the same game 19 times this season (they’re 15-4, which is basically a 65-win pace). The Clippers need some depth on the interior, and they also could use another playmaker on the perimeter. We’ve heard some rumors about Darren Collison coming back for a spot on one of the Los Angeles teams, but I doubt the front office banks on that. I’m not sure how confident they are in JaMychal as the third big man behind Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell.
Going out and grabbing a big man may be the move for them. In having to deal with the size of the Lakers and maybe a matchup like Nikola Jokic, the Clippers need some options. Aron Baynes in Phoenix is a guy a lot of contenders will consider. The Clippers can certainly get by with what they have because they can impose their will with smaller lineups. However, the Clippers should want an insurance policy of a big man who can help them protect the rim and grab defensive rebounds to end possessions. They probably don’t need to be aggressive shoppers at the deadline, but one more move could help solidify them. Plus, we know the Lakers will be active.
This week: 4, Last week: 3
Notes: “The Clippers had their game against the Lakers postponed in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s death, and then were run off the court by the Kings in their return to action on Thursday — a game that Kawhi Leonard missed due to back issues. Kawhi returned on Saturday, however, and scored 31 or more points for the ninth straight game. Paul George made his return to the court, giving the Clippers a healthy squad for the first time in a while. They’ve now won seven of their last 10 games, and are within striking distance of the Lakers in the Western Conference.”