At the start of the Clippers’ most recent road trip, they were without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverley. But Patrick Patterson, one of the team’s most reliable reserves, remained glued to the bench.
When I asked Ty Lue about that postgame, he said that there was no way to get Patterson on the court because the team’s big rotation was already intact. The Clippers had to stretch their perimeter depth by playing Reggie Jackson heavy minutes and even dusting off Amir Coffey.
The Clippers have found themselves in a similar situation in the last two games with both George and Beverley unavailable; Coffey wasn’t even an option this time around since he’s in the G League bubble. Still, Patterson was a DNP-CD, even though it seemed like a good opportunity for the team to go deeper into the bench with the short turnaround. After all, the team could simply go bigger with Nic Batum or Marcus Morris Sr. sliding over to the 3 and playing two bigs alongside them, especially considering the versatility of LA’s centers.
During his media availability Tuesday, Lue confirmed that going big something that the Clippers would like to try.
“We talked about getting into it right before guys got hurt and injured, just trying it out,” Lue said. “I know Serge doesn’t like playing the 4. He says it depends who is at the 5. But we were going to test it out, especially when Marcus was out, we didn’t have a chance to get to it. But we ought to try some different lineups on this trip, just looking at a few things. Just trying to make sure we build our team and get better so if we are in situations like this, whether it is in the playoffs or down the road, that we will be prepared for it. Guys will get a chance to play different positions and also play different roles. So I am excited to see on this trip how we do.”
If bigger lineups are something Lue would like to use, why is it that they haven’t yet? The answer was actually pretty simple: they haven’t had time to practice. At the start of the season, Morris was hurt, and the team needed to get Batum comfortable at power forward in a new system. The Clippers didn’t know Leonard and George wouldn’t be with them on their road trip basically until they left, and they haven’t had a practice since then — until Tuesday.
Having time to actually get on the court together gives the Clippers time to experiment, as Lue noted with guys playing different roles and positions, but it also just allows the team to focus on fundamentals. The Clippers have been a little sloppier as of late.
“I’ve seen slippage offensively and I’ve seen slippage defensively as well,” Lue said. “Just a lack of practice, but everybody is going through it. We just got to make sure we just stay sharp. Usually shootaround days, sometimes go live for 10 minutes just so we can kind of get some work on some things we need to work on. So I am just glad today we have a chance to have a good practice and kind of work on some things that we have slippage in offensively and defensively and just continue to get better.”
The team’s first chance to show off those improvements will come against Minnesota Wednesday.