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The Clippers are at their regular-season peak

The majority opinion is now that the Clippers are the best team in the league.

Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

In the 19 weeks we’ve been tracking the Clippers’ place in the power rankings, this is the highest they have ever been, which an average ranking of 1.6, including four first-place finishes. The closest the Clippers have come to this was week 4, when they had just completed their first seven-game winning streak.

This recent stretch of performance feels more sustainable. The Clippers are playing this well without the benefits of health and continuity, and they’re showing a resilience more reflective of the 2018-19 team than last year’s group. Here’s what folks around the league have to say about the current form of the Clippers.


ESPN

This week: 4th | Last week: 5th

The Clippers are rolling despite missing several starters. Even without Kawhi Leonard (foot), Patrick Beverley (hand), Serge Ibaka (back) and with other key players injured or resting on certain nights, the Clippers have won four straight and 17 of their past 20 games. Paul George is back in revenge mode, scoring 30 or more in seven of his past eight games, and the supporting cast has helped the Clippers come from behind to win the last three games. Head coach Ty Lue’s biggest challenge, though, will be to get his team on the same page once at full strength. The Clippers have not had Leonard, George, Beverley and Ibaka play in a game together since March 11.

NBA.com

This week: 1st | Last week: 2nd

The Clippers remain shorthanded as Kawhi Leonard has missed seven of the last eight games and his sore right foot will be reevaluated this week. But they’ve won 11 of their last 12, with five of those wins having come against teams in the top eight in the Western Conference. Paul George has been terrific, averaging 31 points (on 51/45/92 shooting splits), 5.1 assists and 1.7 steals in the nine games that he’s played over that stretch. But, despite the continued absences of Serge Ibaka and Patrick Beverley, the Clippers’ depth has been a strength, and they beat the Grizzlies on Wednesday without either of their two stars.

Reggie Jackson (19 points and five assists in Houston on Friday) and Terrance Mann (19 points and seven assists against Memphis on Wednesday) have filled in capably as starters, and Ivica Zubac may not lose the starting center job when Ibaka returns. Nicolas Batum’s and Rajon Rondo’s minutes have been big positives, while Luke Kennard had a huge game against the Grizzlies. The Clippers even got some punch off the bench from DeMarcus Cousins, who had 24 rebounds (eight offensive) in 43 minutes last week.

The Clippers have the league’s best record (19-5) since the All-Star break, with their defense having seen the fifth biggest drop in points allowed per 100 possessions (111.5 before the break, 109.0 since). They’re just a game in the loss column behind the second-place Suns and two games in the loss column ahead of the fourth-place Nuggets. They’ll play both this week, having already clinched the season series (and tie-breaker) against Phoenix and tied 1-1 with Denver.

CBS Sports

This week: 1st | Last week: 1st

The Clippers just keep on rolling, winning all three games this week without Kawhi Leonard, and one over the Grizzlies with a starting lineup of Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris, Amir Coffey and Ivica Zubac — yeah, things are clicking for L.A. Paul George kept up his outstanding play, averaging 33 points and 12.5 rebounds in two games this week, while Morris has stepped up in Leonard’s absence, putting up 20.5 points in his two games this week on 43 percent 3-point shooting. The Clippers have won 11 of their last 12, and are three games back of the Jazz in the loss column for the West’s top seed.

Bleacher Report

This week: 1st | Last week: 1st

The Clippers have been rolling since the trade deadline going 14-3—the league’s best record over that stretch. Stephen Curry may be overshadowing everybody individually, but Paul George has been phenomenal for L.A. He has scored 30 points or more in seven of his past eight games.

As good as everything is going right now, there are a few injury issues to keep an eye on. Kawhi Leonard was out last week with a sore right foot. Patrick Beverley has been out with a broken left hand. Serge Ibaka has been out with a back injury since the All-Star Game. Add Rajon Rondo to the injury list missing the past two games.

Despite the injuries, L.A. is tied with Phoenix for the second seed in the West, though the Clippers are slightly behind based on winning percentage—.700 to .694. As important as having home court would be, getting healthier has to be the Clippers’ primary focus.

The Athletic

This week: 1st | Last week: 4th

Why are they ranked here? It’s up to the Clippers to break the curse this week. They’re at New Orleans and at Phoenix to kick off the week. Winning 11 of their last 12 has put them up here for the time being, and they’re not even healthy yet. Would love to see the rest of the season be full strength for them.

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