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The Clippers defense is raising some eyebrows around the league, and not in a good way

The now full-strength Clippers were uneven in their first week together.

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LA Clippers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

It was a bumpy week for the Clippers, who finally debuted their full lineup but had some hiccups nonetheless. The Clippers went 2-2 over the seven days, losing against the San Antonio Spurs without Paul George but then rebounding with everyone against Golden State. Unfortunately, they then blew a big lead to the Warriors in the second game of their set and barely hung on at home against the Bulls despite a lights-out offensive performance.

Across the league, there is some concern about LA’s defense thus far despite rock-solid personnel, as well as what to make of the Clippers bench thus far. Ty Lue attempted to address the bench issues Sunday with some new rotations, but the defense remained problematic.

Power Rankings


This week: 2nd | Last week: 2nd

The Clippers are at full strength for the first time this season, with Marcus Morris Sr. making his season debut last week. But they blew a 22-point second-half lead in a loss at Golden State to conjure up haunting memories from the Florida bubble. Ty Lue’s defense allowed Zach LaVine to drill 10 3-pointers, Stephen Curry to make nine and Patty Mills to bury eight in three of the past four games. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are scoring, but defense and bench play have been inconsistent.

This week: 6th | Last week: 3rd

Though Marcus Morris made his season debut last week, the Clippers continued to have issues with their bench. Their starting lineup has allowed just 92.4 points per 100 possessions and outscored its opponents by 28.5 per 100 in its 122 minutes, and those are the best marks (by healthy margins) among the 24 lineups that have played at least 50 minutes. But they’re a bottom-five defensive team, because, in the other 406 minutes that they’ve played, they’ve allowed 119.6 points per 100 possessions.

CBS Sports

This week: 9th | Last week: 3rd

The Clippers lost to the Spurs to start the week, but the real eyebrow-raiser came Friday in San Francisco, when they squandered a 22-point second-half lead and wound up losing by 10 to the Warriors. It’s just a regular-season game, but it was eerily reminiscent of the Clippers’ playoff collapses a couple months ago. They needed a comeback of their own to beat the Bulls on Sunday, as Kawhi Leonard went bonkers with 35 points on 7-for-9 3-point shooting. Marcus Morris also made his season debut on Wednesday after coming back from a knee injury, and he’ll add to the team’s frontcourt depth next to Nicolas Batum, who has played well to start the year.

The Athletic

This week: 5th | Last week: 3rd

The extremes of the LA Clippers on both ends of the floor mirror that of some of the bad teams we see in the NBA this season.... For the Clippers, we’re seeing a tremendous offensive effort each night. They’ve got the third-best offensive rating in the league, even without consistent shot-making from Kawhi Leonard (although his playmaking has been great). But defensively? They’re only 1.1 points per 100 possessions better than the Washington Wizards right now. They’re a bottom-five defense in the league, and it’s not the focus this personnel should exhibit. They’ll be fine and probably work their way toward top 10 in defense by season’s end, but they need to figure out why they’re not stopping opponents.