40-26 record - revisited

Below you will a post I wrote several weeks ago (right after ORL game) regarding how the Clips record would play out. Obviously things have changed (ie me mentioning Portland being a 4 or 5 seed). Some things havent changed. For instance, at the writing of the original post, the Clippers were a +7 in win column. They are a +6 now and hopefully +7 after tonight. I dont believe they will get to +14 in wins by April 27th. If you look below, I analyze the schedule of lesser opponents, similar opponents, and superior opponents.

As of today, the Clippers are 4-5 vs those lesser opponents with all 3 games vs NO, (2H, 1A), 1 Home vsGSW, 2 vs PHX (1H/1A), 1 Home vs UTAH, and 2 vs SAC (1H/1A) left. I think this is the biggest area where Clips have slumped. But in theory (always dangerous to say/write that), the Clippers should win at least 7 out of those 9 games to 11-7. That gives them a +4 in the less opponents category coupled with the current +6 record = +10 in wins.

Next would be the similar opponents. At the writing of the original post, there were15 games vs above avg/good teams. Currently, the CLippers have gone 5-3 which is a positive. There are 7 games left in this category: 1H vs PDX, 1A vsDEN, 1A vs MIN, 1A vs ATL, 2vs Mem (1H/1A), and 1A vs NYK. Obviously the Blazers have changed quite a bit but I'll keep them in this category because that's where I put them at the writing of the original post. I think the Clippers can win 2 (PDX and MIN) and maybe sneak a 3rd win somewhere (NY?) which would put them at 8-7 vs similar/good opponents. That gives them a +1 coupled with the +4 vs less opponents, and +6 current record = +11 in wins.

Finally comes the tough opponents. There were 10 games vs these opponents at the time of the writing. Currently, the Clippers are 2-4 with 4 games remaining I'm not really sure if another win happens. Maybe at home vs Lakers or OKC or @ Dal. I'll say they win 1 of those which gives them a 3-7 record and -4 in wins. Include that win the above analysis and it equals out to a +7 in wins which of course cannot be completely correct as you cannot have an odd amount of win differential with even amount of games so the record could be either 36-30 or 37-29. Right now, I would take a 37-29.

Another way to look at it is, the Clippers are still close to the 10 wins a mth pace. If they can win 4 more games in 6 remaining in March (2 vs NOH, vs Mem, vs PHX, vs PDX, and vs Utah), they will hit that 30 win total and have 14 games in April (admittedly, going 10-4 in April will be beyond tough) so if they can go 5-1 in those March games, maybe they 7-7 in April which leaves them only 2 short of 40 wins (38-28).

I thought before the season that Clippers need to avg 10 wins a month (Jan-Feb-Mar-Apr) to get to a record of 40-26 and a good seed in the playoffs. The western conference is very very tough so getting close to 40 wins will almost be required for a playoff spot. For simplicity sake, I counted the Dec games into the January pool. As of now, they are on pace and actually ahead of this pace. Any wins they get beyond 10 in Feb or Mar will be an added bonus, as I think the April month will be the toughest schedule-wise.

Coincidentally, ESPN's John Hollinger listed his 2011-12 NBA Playoff odds and lists Clippers as a projected record of 40-26 (with best possible at 54-12 and worst possible at 25-41) so I'm glad that my estimation is confirmed by someone else. According to him, that record would get the Clippers a 3 seed which I like though according to his list that would mean a series vs Denver--the 4-5 seed series is Portland vs Houston. I'd rather drop a seed and play one of them.

To sum all this up, the Clippers are +7 in the win column after roughly 1/3 of the season. They need to finish at +14 at the end of the season which means a closing record of 25-18 which totally seems doable considering they still have these games to come:

3 vs New Orleans (2H, 1A)

4 vs PHX (2H, 2A)

3 vs GSW (2H, 1A)

3 vs Sacramento (1H, 2A)

1 vs Utah (at Home--still dont consider them a playoff team--consider them in the GSW/PHX level)

And games against weak eastern opponents: @ Char, Wash, @ NJ, and Detroit

That's 18 games vs what I would consider lesser opponents. I think they should go at least 13-5 in those games assuming some slip ups and fatigue). That leaves 12 more wins to come from the rest of the scheduled 25 games. Of those remaining games they have 15 vs above avg/good teams:

2 vs Portland (1H, 1A)

2 vs Denver (1H, 1A)

3 vs MIN (1H, 2A)

2 vs ATL (1H, 1A)

2 vs Houston (1H, 1A)

2 vs Memphis (1H, 1A)

1 vs Indiana (1A)

1 vs NYK (1A)

I put Minnesota in this category because are improved and dangerous. I think they should go 7-8 vs these pool of teams. I think they win the home games and steal one at Pacers or Knicks. They could also steal one at Minnesota.

So now that leaves 5 more wins to come home what is left on the schedule; 10 games vs those that I consider tough opponents:

1 vs 76ers (1A)

2 vs Dallas (2A)

2 vs San Antonio (1H, 1A)

1 vs Boston (1H)

3 vs OKC (1H, 2A)

1 vs Lakers (1H)

When I break it down like this, it does get dicey. I think they win at home vs Spurs and Boston but not sure where they get those other 3 wins at. Maybe I'm not as confident as I was....yikes!

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