It’s been an up-and-down season for the Clippers, but through all of that they are still one of the top teams in the league. Entering Monday, LA is fourth in the Western Conference standings but only two games out of the No. 2 seed. With that being said, they are also only 1.5 games ahead of the No. 6 seed.
This past week, LA went 2-1. They picked up a pretty convincing win over the Hornets and split two games with the Mavericks. They defeated Dallas on the road by 10 points, but then dropped the next game at Dallas by 16.
After a three game losing streak to close out the first half of the season, the Clippers are 3-2 since starting the second half. Although they haven’t been climbing in the standings, are they still viewed as a top five team in the league? Let’s take a look.
This week: 6 | Last week: 6
Head coach Ty Lue moved Marcus Morris Sr. into the starting five with Nicolas Batum coming off the bench in an effort to get the Clippers to play more consistently, and they’ve held their past three opponents to an average of 100.6 points. The Clippers can use some help at point guard, especially with Patrick Beverley (knee) out, so it remains to be seen whether they are able to do anything with their limited trade chips at the deadline. The Clippers, though, are in a stretch of playing 11 of 13 games at home, giving Lue’s team more practice time as it waits for injured starters Serge Ibaka (back) and Beverley to return.
This week: 6 | Last week: 7
The Clippers split with the Mavs before delivering a good old-fashioned beatdown to the Hornets on Saturday. Ivica Zubac and Marcus Morris stepped up with Serge Ibaka out of the lineup for all three of this week’s games, while Paul George and Kawhi Leonard paced the team in scoring, as usual. The Clippers are 4-6 in their last 10 games, and they’ll be a fascinating team to watch with Thursday’s trade deadline nearing.
This week: 7 | Last week: 7
t’s been five weeks since the Clippers last won two straight games, and their loss in Dallas on Wednesday was the third time that they’ve been held under a point per possession over that 14-game stretch. Their shooting from the first eight weeks was probably unsustainable and Paul George isn’t the only rotation guy who’s seen a big drop in effective field goal percentage since then. So have Nicolas Batum and Marcus Morris, who switched roles (Morris replaced Batum in the starting lineup) last week. The Clippers’ numbers have been great no matter who’s been on the floor with George and Kawhi Leonard, but injuries to Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka haven’t allowed for any time for what would be their new, when-healthy starting lineup.
The shooting drop-off puts more of a spotlight on the Clips’ inability to get to the basket and to the line. But their 73 in the restricted area (50) or at the line (23) in an easy win over Charlotte on Saturday were their season high by a wide margin (it was previously 64). If they’re going to get a second straight win this time, they’re going to do it against a team that’s won eight straight. The Clippers have been on the road for most of the last month, but will begin a nine-game homestand (that includes games against the Sixers, Bucks, Nuggets, Lakers, Blazers and Suns) on Saturday.
This week: 4 | Last week: 7
The efficiency of Leonard can be taken for granted sometimes. The LA Clippers star has been so proficient in how efficiently his body moves to execute against top defenders that now it just gets expected of him. In reality, it’s just so difficult to do what he does in the way he does it. Look at the last 10 games for the Clippers and how Kawhi has played. His 22.7 points per game scoring average won’t blow you away. But it’s coming from a 61.5 percent true shooting during this stretch. It’s also coming with nearly seven rebounds, five assists and two steals per game. Considering the Clippers are just 4-6 in these last 10, maybe they’ll need him to do a bit more, but he’s still impressively efficient.