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Power Rankings Watch: How Are the Clippers Faring in Week 17

A 1-3 week has the Clippers on the brink of falling out of the Western Conference playoff race. Let’s see if they can regroup in Week 18 on the road.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Consistency is not the Clippers strongest suit right now. After a 3-1 week 16, again without the services of Danilo Gallinari, the Clips threw an absolute dud on the board against the lowly Hawks at home early this week. The week looked like a disaster given that the Lakers would have LeBron James back, and that game would be followed by a road back-to-back in Detroit and Toronto. While it still went pretty badly, it was saved from utter ruin by a historic come from behind victory against the Pistons and Blake Griffin. A three point overtime loss to the other L.A. team was really a game given up, as the Clips went 14-of-26 from the free throw line. The fact that the Clips could win that game without their second leading scorer (And the return of the best player in the NBA) shows that this team has talent across the board, but sometimes that’s just not enough.

Despite L.A.’s best efforts, they only remain a game ahead of the Kings, holding tight to the eighth spot in the West. This is a big week in the league, as Thursday, Feb 7 is the trade deadline, and the Clippers could look to sell some pieces in order to make a better run at the playoffs this season. There were reports this afternoon that Anthony Davis would be interested in becoming a Clipper, yet no offers have been made to NOLA by the Clips. Definitely something to watch for over the next few days.

With away games against the very beatable Hornets, the injury-depleted Pacers, and inconsistent Celtics this week (and supposedly a Gallo return), this could be a good week for the Clips if they don’t play down to their competition and get back to their winning ways. Let’s take a look and see where members of the NBA media have the Clips after last week’s performances.

Yahoo Sports

This week: 15th, Last week: 14th

Notes: In recent years, Adam Silver and the NBA has done it’s best to reduce the number of back-to-back teams play. However, the Clippers got smacked with a doozy this past weekend. After coming from 25 points down to beat the Pistons in a game that tipped off at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday in Detroit, the Clips had to fly to Toronto for an afternoon game on Sunday vs. the Raptors. “This is a ridiculous back-to-back,” L.A. coach Doc Rivers said afterward. “We had dead legs. I thought you could see it defensively, we weren’t moving our feet. It was one of those schedule losses, really.

NBA.com

This week: 15th, Last week: 14th

Notes: It’s possible that we’ve seen the last of Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley and Marcin Gortat starting NBA games together. As you might expect given the skill sets of that trio, the Clippers have not been very good offensively (they’ve scored just 96.4 points per 100 possessions) in their 244 minutes on the floor together. But (with Danilo Gallinari having missed the last nine games) they were starting together until Saturday, when coach Doc Rivers seemingly pulled the plug with his team down 15-4 at the 8:18 mark of the first quarter in Detroit. Gortat hasn’t seen the floor since, the Clippers came back from 25 points down to beat the Pistons, and Montrezl Harrell got the start in Toronto on Sunday. That comeback in Detroit has the Clippers hanging on to eighth place with four more games left on their current road trip and two more games remaining against the 10th-place Lakers.

ESPN

This week: 15th, Last week: 14th

Notes: The Clippers are in a fascinating spot as they approach the trade deadline sitting in the No. 8 seed. They will keep their draft pick only if they fail to qualify for the playoffs (where they’d be heavy underdogs against an elite opponent) and have one of the most valuable commodities in the marketplace -- quality players on reasonable expiring contracts. In a sellers’ market, would the Clippers entertain dealing Tobias Harris, the heartbeat of this season’s overachieving squad? How about Patrick Beverley, a defensive bulldog and proficient long-range threat who could undoubtedly help a contender?

Sports Illustrated

This week: 16th, Last week: 14th

Notes: Neither Staples Center nor Canada were friendly confines for the Clippers last week. Maybe Charlotte, Indiana and Boston will treat them better.

The Athletic:

This week: 15th, last week: 13th

Notes: The Los Angeles Clippers need to show patience at the deadline, since they’ve been playing for the summer this entire time. I wouldn’t say the Clippers are hanging on by a thread for the playoffs in the West, but this finish to the season is going to be extremely difficult for them. Finding the success to make the postseason in the West becomes another feather in the cap of the Clippers as they head into free agency with big pitch energy. They want Kawhi Leonard so badly. Steve Ballmer flew to the Clippers-Toronto game just to be there. The thirst of the Clippers for Leonard is through the roof.

Still, that doesn’t mean they should panic just to make a trade to help boost their playoff chances. The Clippers have to ensure their core to pitch to Leonard is intact. They also have to make sure they don’t screw up any salary cap situations or hurt their future by giving up draft picks. The Clippers have been executing a plan to acquire flexibility. Now that it’s just around the corner, they can’t get distracted by making the playoffs a certainty. Ballmer could always flip a switch and decide he needs everything for the Clippers to compete. But their poise so far in making difficult decisions (Griffin trade) to reshape the future of this franchise has yielded good results. Just keep trusting that plan and trust your pitch this summer to be good enough to accomplish the goal.