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Good, Bad, and Ugly: There is no Good

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The Clippers came into Thanksgiving with a sparkling 14-2 record, best in the NBA. They now sit at 14-5, and we are all freaking out. That’s the definition of ugly.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Good:

I lied. There is still one “good” thing that Clips fans can look to. That is the fact that they are still 14-5, third in the Western Conference, and only a half game back of the Spurs for second. It’s a long season, and the Clippers are too good to be this awful for all of it. They will eventually be “fine”.

Ugly:

This team doesn’t look different from the Clippers of years past. The first 12 games of the season seemed to indicate this team had transformed into a more poised and dangerous version of their past selves, a team that wouldn’t get rattled by a bad loss or two. A team that might not even have too many bad losses in the first place, because they were too tough and had too much fire to let winnable games slip away. Nope. The Clippers have now lost three games in a row, all contests they should have won handily on paper. Reggie Jackson-less Pistons? Loss. Indiana Pacers without Paul George? Blowout mauling. Brooklyn Nets with no Jeremy Lin? A double overtime loss. Forget being on the road. Forget the brutal early schedule. These are games that the Clippers should win, and win easily at that.

It’s not even really that they lost. Teams lose games sometimes. It’s how they lost them. No passion, no fire, no heart. Coach Doc Rivers certainly showed some heat in the Nets loss, getting ejected after trying to bull-rush referee Kenny Mauer. But the players haven’t. And that’s disappointing, especially after all the talk about how this year was different. About how they have learned from years past. It certainly doesn’t seem like they have, not after the past three games. Maybe that calm is just part of their new poise— maybe the lack of anger is a good thing, a sign that our Clippers have matured and can take licks and keep on ticking. I hope they prove me wrong. I would love it.

There isn’t much to talk about in regards to actual basketball play. The Clippers need to play better. They need to move the ball more. They need to shoot the ball better. They have to play defense at a higher intensity. There isn’t a thing they collectively did well over the past three games as a team. It was Thanksgiving season. Now its truth season. Can this team bounce back from this stretch of bad performances? Will they be able to face down a terrific Cavaliers team on Thursday that is also coming off a rare loss? If the Clippers stand up and show some fight, I will be happy, loss or no.

Look, as I said at the top, the Clippers are really good. They have been for the past five years, and they are again this year. To start the season, they were great. And they can get back there. This team has all the talent and tools they need to be one of the best teams in the NBA this season, if not the best: multiple superstars, superior role players, an explosive and tough-nosed bench. For some reason, that greatness has faded the past few games. But it can be reclaimed. I still believe.

Go Clippers!