Well, the short answer is, it's pretty bad. Look, who cares that we lost to the Raptors? Let's say we don't have the brain fart on the last possession, and let's say Ford's shot doesn't go in, so we successfully come back and beat the Raptors by 2 points. Big effing deal. WHY THE HELL ARE WE IN A 2 POINT GAME WITH THE RAPTORS WHEN CHRIS BOSH IS HURT? I'm actually glad they lost. One game in the standings is not going to help this team. Shock therapy is more in order.
After the OT win over the Sixers on 11/18, I wrote that the Clippers suck (a game very similar to the Raptors game, btw). Miraculously, they were 6-2 at the time. Since then, they have won 4 and lost 12, a record much more in keeping with their quality of play. Now, let that sink in a little. 4 wins and 12 losses. That's a winning percentage of .250 - it equates to 20 or 21 wins over an 82 game season. So, we're not talking `miss the playoffs' bad. We're talking, worst record in the Western Conference, battling Philly in the Greg Oden sweepstakes, worst Clippers team since the Chris Ford era bad. And just to compare it to the teams the Clippers were supposed to be competing with this year... back on 11/18 when the Clippers were 6-2, they were in first place in the division, 3.5 games ahead of 3-6 Phoenix. The Suns have not lost since. The Clippers are 8 games back now.
But it doesn't make logical sense. How can a team that a year ago won 47 games, was 5th overall in the Western Conference, and was a win away from the Western Conference Finals fall this far with essentially the same lineup?
The good news is that the Clippers aren't this bad. They're not a .250 team. They have 'better than .500' talent. They've played a lot of the top teams, and that will even out. And they will snap out of this daze at some point.
Look, even at 10-14, the Clippers are all of 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the West (currently held by Golden State, of all teams). The West right now is five great teams (I'm adding Houston and Utah to the category to go with the Spurs, Suns and Mavs), two teams that may be great (the Nuggets with AI, and the wild card Lakers), and everybody else. The eighth playoff spot is totally up for grabs. It wouldn't take a miracle for the Clippers to get that spot.
Now for the bad news. It won't matter. The eighth seed in the West is a first round playoff exit. It would be better to play 250 ball and get a good draft pick in a strong draft.
Mediocre teams have turned things around mid-season many times. Two seasons ago a Denver team 5 games below .500 went 23-2 after the all-star break Just last season, the Bulls were 10 games below .500 with 14 to go, and went 12-2. So a teams' fortunes can certainly change mid-season, if they have the talent. Of course, both Denver and Chicago entered the playoffs with a ton of momentum, and were sent home in the first round.
The Clippers will eventually play good basketball again. They have played perhaps one complete game so far this season (against Orlando), but they'll get on a roll at some point. And if it happens at the right time, we'll get excited and talk about momentum and playoff matchups, and maybe even believe we have a chance in a 7 game series against San Antonio or Utah. But we'll be done in the first round.
Which is worse than not making the playoffs at all.