I had my own version of an All-Star break this weekend, as I went to Mexico for my brothers bachelor party. I am unwell. I learned about Mezcal (like Tequila except better hangovers). When you have been drinking for about three days straight, no matter how well your liver filters out the booze or what you are drinking, you ain’t gonna feel 100%. Today has been slightly brutal.

But as we all know, ball don’t sleep. I ended up watching the All-Star game via Reddit Streams on choppy Mexican wifi while passing around Mezcal and talking mad ish with the mostly Laker fans assembled from my brothers friend group. Twas a fun time. Especially when you factor in the fact that Kawhi Leonard won the games MVP and shot the absolute lights out.

In listening to Bill Simmons’ podcast the day after, he joked that Clipper fans should be mad that we see Kawhi go all out in what is realistically an exhibition game, when he load manages real games. He also said he was “out” on Landry Shamet as a player of impact for the Clippers. The disrespect is real. Despite being a longtime season ticket holder, Bill seems to get this team wrong a lot. Especially this year.

What Landry has brought to the table the past month and a half has been high level shooting, impressive ball handling and a lack of fear. You can make the argument that while Paul George (then Patrick Beverley) was out, he was the second or third best player on the floor for the Clippers on any given night. At 22. And undersized. And without a super “defined” position. All Landry does is come in, shoot the lights out, play D to the best of his efforts, handle the ball surprisingly well and not make many mistakes. If you are “out” on that every night, then I don’t know what to tell ya Bill. 

Secondly, no one in #Clippernation is mad at seeing success for any of its players. Load management is a necessary tool for Kawhi and his long-term knee health. I’m straight with him taking as much time he needs during the regular season to perform in May and June. If anything, tonight showed that when the lights are at it’s brightest and the competition is at its highest, Kawhi comes to ball. Expect more of that this summer, people.

Let’s take a look at where the NBA media places the Clippers in their weekly power rankings.

NBA.com

This week: 7, Last week: 5

Notes: “More concerning than the Clippers going 1-3 (and allowing almost 120 points per 100 possessions in the three losses) on their trip before the All-Star break is that the trip ended with Paul George in the TD Garden locker room, dealing with more pain in his left hamstring. There are still eight weeks left in the regular season and the Clips don’t have a back-to-back until mid-March, but it remains unclear if they’ll get an extended stretch with a healthy core between now and April 18.

The Clippers rank sixth defensively overall and have had the league’s best defense in games against the league’s 13 best offenses. But they couldn’t get the stops they needed down the stretch in Boston on Thursday and rank 28th in clutch defense, having allowed their opponents to score 117 points per 100 possessions with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or OT.

Marcus Morris has taken 32 shots with the Clippers, and 26 of those 32 have come from outside the paint. The most confounding of those shots was his mid-range pull-up over an Al Horford contest when the Clippers came out of a timeout late in a close game and had Morris iso against a good defender with George and Kawhi Leonard on the floor and no movement away from the ball. Morris has scored 0.96 points per possession on isolations, a mark which ranks 27th among 71 players with at least 50 isolation possessions this season.”

ESPN

This week: 6, Last week: 6

Notes: “The Clippers have played 2,655 minutes this season. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have played just 572 of those together. And now Paul George has reinjured his troublesome hamstring, which could cause him to miss a little more time. The Clippers’ primary goal down the stretch is simple: Get the top eight rotation players as healthy and as jelled as possible. Because in those 572 minutes that Leonard and George have shared, the Clippers are a plus-9.6 points per 100 possessions.”

Bleacher Report

This week: 8, Last week: 6

Notes: “Deadline acquisition Marcus Morris Sr. closed at center in Tuesday’s 110-103 loss to the Sixers, and he wasted no time bringing some edge to the Clippers. He got into a dustup with Joel Embiid, which, given their history, was to be expected. Morris will have to do more than scrap with his long list of enemies to make a real difference in Los Angeles. Job No. 1 should be keeping the ball moving (long a challenge for him) and embracing a more limited role than he played with the Knicks.

If the hamstring strain that forced Paul George out of Thursday’s game against the Celtics lingers, Morris could get a healthy share of shots. But when L.A. is fully healthy, he’ll have to make the most of fewer looks while defending across several positions. The Clips lost three of their last four games prior to the All-Star break and have fallen a game behind Denver for the West’s second seed.”

CBS Sports

This week: 9, Last week: 6

Notes: “The Clippers lost road games to the 76ers and Celtics this week, and they still seem far from the finished product that many expect to contend for a title this season. Paul George struggled mightily from the field against the Sixers, going 3 for 15, then re-aggravated his hamstring injury against the Celtics, missing the final two quarters and overtime periods. The Clippers surely think they’ll be fine once they have a full roster, but it would be nice to see it for more than a handful of games before the playoffs start.”

NBC Sports

This week: 5

Notes: “Congratulations to Kawhi Leonard on winning the first Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award. Leonard was surprisingly open in talking about his relationship with Kobe and how much winning the award meant to him. Now, it’s back to trying to build some chemistry with the Clippers, where Paul George is sidelined again because of injury.”

Chris Murch

Chris Murch

Chris started covering the Clippers with SB Nation's Clips Nation in the Fall of 2018. Along with his Clipper scribbles, he has his own NBA humor website, This League! (thisleague.net) and is also an aspiring spelunker with over 150 cave dives to his credit. He also likes to tell tall tales so people laugh at him. Or with him? Idk.

15 Comments

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    CBS sports has us 9th… and I can’t say I would argue with them based on how we performed last week and how elusive our health and lineup chemistry/consistency has been… we really need to get our shit together during the month of March and start developing that chemistry that will be much needed in April, not to mention avoiding 4-5 seed tough 1st round matchup.

  • Avatar CLIPPERZ says:

    IDK ESPN’s is a bit more real.

  • Avatar Roger Sause says:

    Clips Nation is a derelict ghost ship now. Looks like they’ve deleted a bunch of posts too. Onward!

  • Avatar Minion94 says:

    The team is ranked 28th in clutch defense because Zubac can’t get any time in clutch time. Seriously needed his paint presence and rebounding versus the Celtics once Theis fouled out. Then Tatum wouldn’t have driven as much as he did and their rookie Grant Williams would’ve lost the boards to Zu.

  • Avatar brian sanchez says:

    The question is do the Clips continue to play iso ball or are those days behind us? I think Reggie can open up opportunities for Sham but would also like to see Reggie start if Bev is out just for shits and gigs. Hopefully Doc does some experimenting with all these weapons.

  • Avatar dhpat says:

    30 games or so to go? Some new faces to the team, hopefully, get healthy by the Playoffs. This seems like cramming for finals, but 30 games should be enough for this team to become more comfortable with each other. West Conf. is not easy. Each of our individual players can be great, but we have tempted or teased with the “Beautiful Team Basketball” (i.e. fluid ball movement to lead to easy 3’s and cuts to the baskets for layups and just stifling defense that we all know that we can play. The Warriors had their Lineup of Death, but that core (Steph, Draymond, Klay) had several years of time together. I’m just hoping that we can stay healthy enough for guys to gel as that Beautiful Team.

    • Avatar g30 says:

      Totally agree, I know we can’t be the warriors carbon copy but I have been desperately awaiting more motion and ball movement. I feel we have too many ‘take this game over types’ with Kawhi being the only one I truly trust and this biting us in the butt in the end.

      The defensive numbers are odd, 6th overall but shit during clutch time. I was hoping we’d be a death machine on defense but after seeing Boston do us in that game…they stole the ‘Clamp City’ moniker in that one. Pbev, we need you…

      PS, hamstrings are a b*tch, gotta give them mucho time. PG came back too soon.

      PPS, Simmons and the Clippers is a dead horse. His Boston, pop-culture circle jerk sure pays his bills, but I tired of him long ago.

      • Avatar ChrisD says:

        i’m not surprised by the crunch time minutes since Doc plays Lou & Trez in crunch time and they aren’t defensive stalwarts.

      • Avatar dhpat says:

        If we had healthy PG13 and Pat Bev, might have been a different game in Boston. Celtics were without Jaylen Brown.

  • Avatar Oodypkt says:

    Entertaining write-up.
    Agreed about the health, that’s most important stuff for this team.
    Also, if there are shots that we have to make. If not for Kawhi to take them, I still believe in Sham and Green. They are fearless.

  • Avatar PIKE4-3 says:

    I don’t wish to be negative here, only realistic. But IF the team struggles come playoff time and it leads to a disappointing early exit, i truly hope that it happens with a (predominantly) healthy roster. This may be the only way to render the FO into making a necessary adjustment to our coaching situation. Doc routinely demonstrates how to take a great roster and exploit its weaknesses almost as often as its strengths, and particularly when it matters most (with games on the line.) the 28th ranked team defense during crunch time is an absolute joke