No Kawhi Leonard.
No Paul George.
But the Clippers still have more than enough talent and heart to give any team a hard time.
You can thank Tyronn Lue’s Next Man Up mentality.
Whether it’d be changing the starting roster after about ten games, giving a 20-year-old rookie big minutes, or pulling out a center from the floor, Lue isn’t afraid to change what Clippers basketball looks like.
Because he trusts all 12 of his players.
This trust and family-like camaraderie have been pretty significant the past few games, too.
Even without seven-time All-Star George, the Clippers went on a three-game winning streak before dropping one to the Jazz last Wednesday.
In their blowout loss, it was Marcus Morris Sr. and Eric Bledsoe who found some traction: the forward finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds and the veteran guard with 21 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds.
The game before, it was Morris, alongside Reggie Jackson, who took matter into their own hands against the number one seeded Phoenix Suns. Morris looked unstoppable from everywhere on the hardwood — he posted another 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 11 rebounds. As for Mr. June, he beat the Suns down the court, racking up an impressive 19 points.
Jackson got himself going in the game prior, too: he led the Clippers with 25 points (7-straight late in the fourth), draining more than half of his shot attempts. His backcourt partner, Luke Kennard, a sharp-shooter from Duke, made it rain from deep, capitalizing off 7 of his 11 three-point attempts. He finished the game with 23 points (and a hot hand!).
Let’s not forget Brandon Boston Jr.’s 27-point explosion against the Boston Celtics.
This is what makes this team so exciting. So easy to love.
Every game, any one of the players in blue can step up at any one moment.
And lucky for the Clippers, the next match-up seems to be the most favorable to bounce back and get on the win column.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have the league’s lowest offensive rating, thanks to them being the league’s worst in points scored (99 points), field gold percentage (41.1 percent), and three-point percentage (30.9 percent). Euphemistically, the team’s struggling, Realistically, the team’s offensive is atrocious.
Now put a hard-defending Eric Bledsoe or a shot-blocking Ivica Zubac into the equation, the Clippers should be able to hold former Clipper Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder to less than 100 points.
On the other end of the floor, keep an eye out for Mook. After his early struggles at the start of the season, he’s been a burdensome offensive task for any opposing team. His 6’8 frame allows him to post up against smaller players; any time he faces up, he makes it very hard for any defender to block his shot; he’s also been catching on fire from downtown recently.
So even without their two best players, the Clippers aren’t necessarily stuck in dire straits.
If anything, they’re, somehow, still the Clippers that most teams don’t want to take on.
The hard-fighting Clippers.
When: Saturday, December 18 at 5 p.m. PT
Where: Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, OK
How to watch/listen: ESPN, Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN radio
Opposing perspective: Welcome to Loud City
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Derrick Favors
Clippers: Nicolas Batum, Paul George — QUESTIONABLE; Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Thunder: Luguentz Dort — QUESTIONABLE; Ty Jerome, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, Aaron Wiggins — OUT
This post will serve as the game thread. Enjoy the game, and comment below.