For some reason, this iteration of the Clippers this year makes me really nervous. Not necessarily in the long-term, they still should be favorites for the Larry O’B. But on a game-to-game basis, it’s hard to pin down exactly who they are. I know that anytime they go out, against any team in the league, they can win. Maybe that’s why. Do I expect the Clippers to win every game? Of course not. But I find myself disappointed when they don’t win every game handily and it’s especially jarring when they openly struggle. You look at this team on paper, they should be a 65 win team. This team is now a four-headed monster, with a great bench. While they are little beat up right now with injuries, games like they had Thursday night against the Bucks (and similarly, against the Spurs) are startling. Not only could they not shoot, they couldn’t do a damn thing right. Everything was out of wack and they looked like a fringe playoff team, rather than a championship favorite. Is this a sign that LA is not a great road team? They’re record away from home (4-6) symbolizes this narrative. Or is this more of a sign of a squad that still hasn’t had a ton of time together and still has a ton of chemistry to build. We all hope for the latter and I think that’s the case. However, to be that flat against a team you might see this summer, not great Bob.
With all of this going on, the Clippers are in second place in the West right now. It doesn’t seem like that right? I think it mostly has to do with the media’s fixation on the Lakers killing it and their attention on the play of Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Another aspect is the weird dick measuring contest going on between Clipper and Laker fans on social media. Well, more like the Lakers faithful antagonizing the Clippers every move despite repeatedly saying “no one cares about the Clippers” or bringing up past success. It sure seems like people who rep the Purple and Gold care. Think it’s a sign of a bit of fear on their part. Meanwhile, the Clips are keeping their heads down, winning games, finding chemistry and maintaining a pace many thought before the season. Let’s remember, with Kawhi load management and PG being out the first 11 games of the season, it would have been naive to think that the Clips would be the one seed. What has changed?
Let’s see where NBA media members have the Clippers ranked in week eight of the NBA season.
Last week: 4, This week: 3
Notes: “On the other side of the Bucks’ strong bench performance on Friday was the Clippers getting outscored by 27 points in 19 minutes with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell on the floor together, their worst plus-minus mark in duo’s 177 games together with the Clippers. Having two Sixth Man of the Year candidates to turn to when his two All-NBA guys are off the floor is a huge luxury for Rivers, but he also has the ability to have either Paul George or Kawhi Leonard on the floor at all times, and at this point, he hasn’t felt the need to stagger their minutes in the games in which they’ve both been available. Even in a 16-point win over the Wizards on Sunday, the Clips were outscored, 30-20, in 11 pre-garbage-time minutes with both George and Leonard on the bench. Maybe it’s just a blip, but it’s something to monitor as their six game trip concludes this week, with Leonard making his return to Toronto on Wednesday.”
This week: 4, Last week: 3
Notes: “It’s hard not to have some kind of a reaction to the Bucks’ jarring 28-point win in what was supposed to be a marquee showdown. But it probably says more about the Bucks’ general awesomeness than an issue with the Clippers. Doc Rivers said it best after the game: “It was Giannis’ birthday, and we searched all over the city to find a gift and we couldn’t find one, so we gave him this one. That’s all I can come up with because we were awful.” That’s it for regular-season games between the Bucks and Clippers, though. If they’re going to meet again, it will have to be in June.”
This week: 5, Last week 4
Notes: “The Clippers went 2-1 this week ... but the one loss was a big one. They were blown off the court by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, displaying that the Clippers have a long way to go before they reach their full potential. The beauty of this team is that they don’t seem too concerned with regular-season wins, and they’ll keep fine-tuning until the postseason, even if that means possibly missing out on a No. 1 seed.”
This week: 6, Last week: 5
Notes: “It’s more than a little alarming when a team executes its scouting report against the Clippers by holding Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams to a combined 7-of-29 shooting...and still gets blown out by 20 points. That was the case in L.A.’s 117-97 win over the Blazers on Tuesday, and it won’t be the last time the Clippers’ depth renders opponents’ best defensive efforts useless.
Paul George hit six of his seven three-point attempts in that one and is on pace to set a new career high in long-range accuracy—which is saying something for a guy who’s made more than 40 percent of his treys in two separate seasons. Montrezl Harrell also punished Portland’s stretched-thin defense for 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting, helping L.A.’s bench continue its dominant play. No reserve group produces more points per game than the Clippers’, who actually outscored the starters in the win. Friday’s test against the Bucks was a different story, though. Milwaukee pummeled the Clips from start to finish, doubling them up with a 30-15 first-quarter advantage and never looking back in an eye-opening 119-91 win that was nowhere near that close. The 17-7 Clippers are still a contender, and they should improve as Leonard’s shooting positively regresses. But after a futile effort against a determined Bucks team, L.A. has to lose ground.
This week: 3, Last week: 3
Notes: “Lou and Montrezl forever. Los Angeles’ merry two-man band is averaging 111.4 points per 100 possessions when they share the floor, bullying opponents with one of the league’s premier pick-and-roll duos. Both are undersized, neither are athletic marvels, and yet they’re near unstoppable when paired together. The Clippers’ cast beyond their two stars remains near the NBA’s best.”
This week: 4, Last week: 4
Notes: “Doc Rivers returns home to Chicago on Saturday with his Clippers’ team still very much a work in progress. They scored 135 points on Sunday against the Wizards, but then, everyone does that against the Wizards. Montrezl Harrell might be ready to take that sixth man of the year trophy away from teammate Lou Williams. Harrell is averaging 18.7 points and eight rebounds a game, shooting 59.7% from the field.”