I don’t think the Clippers faithful could possibly like Lou Williams more right now. Despite missing ten shots on Saturday afternoon, Lou hit the most important shot of the Clippers’ young season thus far, a running floater over seven-foot Brook Lopez to seal an overtime victory over one of the best teams in the league right now in the Milwaukee Bucks. It was an up-and-down affair with lead changes galore, dramatic shots, torrid pace, and ultimately, a much-needed victory over a fully healthy, playoff-bound team. It also allowed the Clippers to stay two games above .500, a necessity in the wild Western Conference.
It was a relatively easy week for the Clippers, scheduling wise, as they only played three games, all on the west coast. A loss Monday against the now-Jimmy Butler-less Minnesota Timberwolves would have been embarrassing, but the Clips took care of business. A Thursday night loss to the Portland Trail Blazers was tough, although it was a road game against a 10-3 team with one of the best backcourts in the league. The Clips rebounded against the Bucks and eschewed potential doom by almost dropping to .500. The Clips do have another tough stretch of games coming up as they play the Golden State Warriors Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night and the Brooklyn Nets Saturday. While the Clips might get lucky with some injuries to key members of these teams, this could be a telling week in either direction for the squad. If they can get out of week five winning more than they lost, bravo. If not, while it’s not a disaster, it could stunt some of the momentum they have attained over the last few weeks. Let’s see where they stand after this past week in the minds of the NBA media.
This week: 14th, Last week: 14th
Notes: “Quietly, the Clippers have assembled the league’s No. 7 offense in the early going. A primary factor in their overall efficiency: 3-point shooting. The Clips rank second in accuracy at 39.6 percent (only Golden State is better) and feature four players hitting at least one 3 per game at a rate at 38 percent or better. But here’s the crazy stat: According to Second Spectrum, they’re shooting 41 percent on contested attempts, but only 33 percent on uncontested ones.”
This week: 6th (!), Last week: 9th
Notes: “We’ll see if Avery Bradley (out the last three games with an ankle injury) is the Clippers’ Wally Pipp, permanently losing his starting job to rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (35 points over the last two games), who appears to be the real deal. The Clips’ had mixed results at the start of games last week, and they’ve outscored their opponents by more than 13 points per 100 possessions in 219 minutes with Gilgeous-Alexander and Lou Williams on the floor together, so there’s reasons for putting the rookie back in a reserve roll. More important than the starts are the finishes, and the SGA-Williams backcourt has been on the floor more often than not down the stretch of close games. Williams’ game-winner on Saturday was preceded by two big threes from the rookie. The Clips are 5-1 at home, but Saturday’s game in Brooklyn begins a stretch where they play 11 of 15 on the road.”
This week: 10th, Last week: 13th
Notes: “The schedule hasn’t been all that impressive, as the Clippers have lucked into facing teams missing stars or otherwise falling apart. But wins over OKC (no Westbrook), Houston twice (no Paul in one, no Harden in the other) and Washington (healthy but fracturing entirely) still count.
L.A.’s free-throw rate is the highest in the league, its roster is deep, and it has the versatility to trot out lineups geared to score or get stops. The Clippers don’t have a surplus of two-way contributors, but they’ve got guys with at least one clear skill all the way down the bench.
Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated explained how it all works:
‘Any attempt by Beverley, Williams, or rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to run the show like an auteur would fall flat. Featuring Harris or Gallinari too overtly would only highlight their limitations. So rather than try to be something they’re not, the Clippers collaborate.’
Limitations can be liberating, it seems. The Clippers are 6-5 after a 2-1 week.”
This week: 13th, Last week: 14th
Notes: “The Clippers are second in the NBA in three-point percentage and are first in bench scoring. A solid team all the way through.”
This week: 12th, Last week: N/A
Notes: “They make the playoffs in 75% of simulations. This is a big jump from the 0% chance they had back on 10/12. They have a 20% chance of getting home court advantage in the first round. Their power ranking is up 14 spots since 10/22.”