This past week is representative of what this Clipper team can be. When fully healthy, the Clippers are now 8-0. With the additions of Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris, we are seeing a team that has 10 legitimate scoring threats, all of whom can also make plays for themselves and others. Another fantastic aspect of this team right now; they all seem to be buying in. Since the three-game losing streak two weeks ago, this team has risen to defensive challenges, made the right reads, and improved their rotations and man-to-man defense.
Yes, Sunday’s game against the Sixers wasn’t a great defensive performance. However, the D stepped up when it needed to. Shake Milton exploded, as did Tobias Harris – however, they did more damage in the first half than the second. The Clips held Al Horford to 12 points, Furkan Korkmaz to 8, and Glenn Robinson III to 2. Their 3-pt defense didn’t look as good as it had against the Nuggets or Suns, but they stepped up when they needed to in order to snatch a game from a talented, hungry squad.
The offense we already know a lot about. You have a bench that is averaging nearly 60 points a game since Jackson entered the 2nd unit. Kawhi might be the most consistent player in the league, good for 25-30 every night. PG, despite having some shooting woes since coming back from injury, has had a major impact defensively and has become better acquainted with his teammates on the other end. When he’s hitting his shots, as he had in the past two games, this team is damn near impossible to beat.
Throw in the consistent defense and high offensive efficiency of Ivica Zubac, Mook hitting bail out buckets, Lou and Trezz doing their thing, Landry Shamet hitting threes off the bench, Patrick Beverley being the all-around leader and glue guy, and JaMychal Green being aggressive and knocking down shots, and you have quite a deadly group. How do you beat this team?
Sorry this wasn’t my most comprehensive post. My 9-5 is kicking my ass. However, go to Zach Kram’s recent piece on The Ringer breaking down the Clips season up to this point, as well as Jovan Buha’s newest piece on the past few games over at The Athletic for more on this new-look Clippers team.
After a 4-0 week, the “unraveling” Clippers are 41-19 and tied for 2nd in the Western Conference. Let’s see where NBA media members rank them among 30 teams in week 20 of the NBA season.
This week: 3, Last week: 6
Notes: “Sunday’s win over the 76ers showed why so many believe the Clippers are still maybe the West’s most complete team.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 54 points, while Reggie Jackson, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and the Clippers’ bench provided 69 points. You know the “sky’s the limit” when you’ve been at full strength for only about one-fourth of the season, are 41-19 and still have skeptics wondering how good you can be.”
This week: 5, Last week: 8
Notes: “Reminder: The Clippers are not to be trifled with when healthy.
L.A. smoked the Nuggets on Friday, running its record to 7-0 with all hands on deck in a 132-102 win. No Clipper had to log more than 25 minutes, and four players from the league’s deepest bench scored in double figures. Reggie Jackson was particularly stellar, reeling off 10 points, eight assists and seven boards in only 19 minutes of work. Ranking the Clips has been a challenge all year. They’ve rested stars, coasted for long stretches and even appeared totally checked out at times. Nonetheless, we’ve all quietly shared an understanding that the fully engaged version of this team is a steamroller. The flattened Nuggets can now attest to that.
With four straight wins, all in convincing fashion, it seems like the Clippers are peaking. That makes ranking them based on their ceiling more sensible. They’ll get the chance to validate this week’s climb with dates against Houston on Thursday and the Lakers on Sunday.
This week: 4, Last week: 8
Notes: “The Clippers won all four games they played last week, including victories over the Grizzlies, Sixers and a 132-103 demolition of the Nuggets. They are now a perfect 7-0 this season when they have their roster fully healthy and everybody available. The Clips have had plenty of ups and down in 2019-20, but they will be a force to be reckoned with if they can stay healthy this spring.”
This week: 3, Last week: 7
Notes: “Positive Takeaway: This team fully formed is brilliant. The Clippers just look completely different when they have their regular 10-man rotation. We’ve barely seen it this season, but when it’s out there, the Clippers are slaying everybody else. Depth with the interior is still a question. They don’t really have a point guard who can set other people up. But the perimeter attack is huge and the star power is impressive. Kawhi Leonard looks like an MVP candidate and Paul George continues to play great basketball on both ends of the floor. Everything is in place for the Clippers to make a deep run, but they have to remain healthy. It will annoy Clippers fans the rest of the season to hear that but that’s how you know this team is great. It feels like only their health can get in the way at this point.
Negative Question: What’s the team’s identity when they aren’t fully healthy? This actually doesn’t even really apply to Kawhi or George. It applies more to who their starting point guard ends up being due to injuries or health. When Patrick Beverley is that guy, the team seems to be hyper-focused and the defensive intensity can be saturating some nights. When Lou Williams rarely gets thrust into that starting position, the team just doesn’t have the same fire, even though they have more firepower. The idea of Reggie Jackson starting at any point feels like a disaster too. So it’s really on getting Beverley to be healthy and keep this team focused on defense.”
This week: 3, Last week: 6
Notes: “I remain optimistic regarding Los Angeles’ Finals chances. Sure, there are significant stretches of inconsistency, but the Clippers are still 21–7 when both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both play. Doc Rivers’ squad is stocked with quality rotation players. Their Finals MVP is looking quite spry as we enter March. This is still the elite team many imagined in July despite some midseason hiccups.”
This week: 4, Last week: 9
Notes: “The Clippers are finally getting healthy, and they’re looking like the title contender most expected to see at the beginning of the season. They went 4-0 this week, including a convincing win over the Nuggets, who are among their competition for the No. 2 seed out West. The Clippers’ incredible depth was on display this week, with six players averaging double figures over the four wins.”