Protect this house. What started as the tagline to a series of Under Armour commercials (definitely started before then but that was my first memory of that specific saying) is now an adage the Clippers are taking to heart. Never in franchise history have they been off to a start like they have at home this year. Their only loss at Staples has come in a tight game against a great Milwaukee Bucks squad during a load management game with no Kawhi or PG. It’s awesome to see a squad with a ton of new players getting the job done and giving home fans a show. This new-look Clips squad is making sure fans go home with a positive memory and a W in the win column. This past week was no different, and might have been one of the more exciting/nerve-wracking weeks in recent Clips memory.
The week started with a matchup against the OKC Thunder, a game in which three former Clippers had revenge on their minds. It was an absolute grinder with both teams struggling to score or get in any sort of rhythm. Sans-Kawhi, the Clippers were battling to get buckets but also doing a great job of stopping the three-headed monster of SGA, Gallo, and CP3 on the other end. On the flipside, the Thunder were awesome defensively as well, and played way a their record for a night. It took some late PG heroics to close this one out, but it was an important win in context for the rest of the week. It also showed an ability of this team to scratch and claw out wins even when they aren’t playing their best.
The Clippers next two games, against the Celtics and Rockets, were two of the best regular season games we’ll see all year. True playoff environments with teams that will definitely be there come late April/June. In what could (mayyybeeee) be a Finals matchup, the Clips and Celtics engaged in what can only be described as a heavyweight title fight. Both teams started the game off cold, only to be throwing nothing but haymakers in the second half. Big shot after big shot after big defensive play were needed from both teams. When it was all said and done, the Clippers took what the Celtics gave them (open Patrick Beverley threes) and clamped down in the OT period to secure a very impressive win.
Rinse and repeat Friday night against the Rockets. These teams don’t like each other and it’s obvious. Considering something dramatic always happens when these two teams face-off, you knew this game would be dope. A back-and-forth affair for its entirety, the Clips relied on ole’ faithful Lou Will to keep their win streak alive. The Clips were down in the fourth for the majority of the period, only for Lou Will to score a bunch late and save LA. Despite giving up 119 total points and 37 to James Harden, the Clips strung together enough late stops to get the victory. A big, big win despite only being in November given the Rockets were ahead of LA in the standings. Love to see it.
Sunday was a revenge game against the Pels and LA took care of business, winning 134-109. This was another classic Lou and Trezz game with Kawhi chipping in 26, 6, and 4. This team is so scary when they are healthy and are looking better with each outing with their core now intact.
However, the Clips are turning right around into another four-game week, with three games on the road and a back-to-back. This is the first true “schedule” test. Will Kawhi sit out against Memphis? Does he finally play a b2b? Can the Clips keep the momentum up against teams that are beatable (Grizz, Spurs, Wiz this week with the Mavs first up)? Let’s hope!
This week: 3, Last week: 5
Notes: “So, this is what it looks like. And the early results are in: It looks pretty darn impressive. The Paul George-Kawhi Leonard-Lou Williams trio has played only 27 minutes together so far, and didn’t have a training camp or preseason to hone chemistry, but there already is an obvious connection. The sample size is small, yes, but their net rating is plus-27.5. And in closing situations, such as the late-game comeback against the Rockets, that group is sheer horror to try to stop.”
This week: 3, Last week: 4
Notes: “Paul George hit the big shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder last Monday, a go-ahead trey with 25 seconds left that set up a 90-88 win. Because of the George-against-his-former-team narrative, that bucket got the attention, but Montrezl Harrell won L.A. the game.
His 28 points, 12 rebounds and five assists on 13-of-20 shooting continued a career season for the high-energy reserve. Though the numbers keep piling up, Harrell hasn’t abandoned the relentlessness that got him to this point. As an example: Eight of his rebounds came on the offensive end against OKC.
George and Leonard finally shared the floor during Wednesday’s thrilling 107-104 overtime win against the Boston Celtics, showing only limited glimpses of their combined potential on offense while proving they’re already a devastating combo on D. Friday brought another nail-biting victory, as Leonard drilled a late go-ahead jumper to beat the Houston Rockets. Interestingly, Lou Williams—not George or Leonard—led L.A. in scoring on both Wednesday and Friday. Yet another example of the Clippers’ embarrassment of riches. Sunday’s victory against New Orleans made it five in a row for the increasingly scary Clips.”
This week: 3, Last week: 9
Notes: “Kawhi Leonard and Paul George finally took the court together, and it was every bit as terrifying as you would expect. They’re still working out the kinks offensively, but they showed how devastating they can be on the defensive end in big wins over the Celtics and Rockets. Then, just for kicks, Montrezl Harrell went out and tied a career high with 34 points in a blowout win over the Pelicans. The Clippers are downright scary, and they’re only going to get better as long as they stay healthy.”
This week: 3, Last week: 5
Notes: “There are 14 players to have at least six 40-point games since 2017-18. The first 13 are a list of the NBA’s elite, all of whom who have previously signed max-level contracts. No. 14 on the list? Lou Williams, who will earn $8 million in 2019-20. The Clippers don’t have a third star in a traditional sense, but on a given night, Williams can be as good as any scorer in the league.”
This Week: 3, Last week: 9
Notes: “The Clippers are more than just the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George show which was on display Wednesday night at the Staples Center in the Clippers’ comeback win over the Celtics.”