The Clippers finished the regular season with the fourth-best record in the Western Conference, and the sixth-best record in the league. They had two fewer wins than last year, but clearly could have gotten to the same record as 2019-20 had they put the requisite effort into their final two games.
We knew all season that what the Clippers accomplished during the regular season would be immaterial to how they were perceived nationally. This group was put together to go deep into the playoffs, and the duration of the team’s postseason run will likely be the only barometer of success. Still, it’s a useful exercise to see where they stand after 72 games to set the table for what’s to come.
This week: 5th | Last week: 5th
The Clippers flew under the radar this season, never giving off the vibe of a championship juggernaut but finishing with the league’s best 3-point percentage and second-best net rating nonetheless. They thoroughly dominated with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the floor together, outscoring opponents by a whopping 17.6 points per 100 possessions in over 1,000 minutes. Were it not for their epic playoff collapse in the bubble, more people would be talking about the Clippers as legitimate title contenders.
This week: 7th | Last week: 9th
L.A. had a strong season, finishing second in net rating and third in offensive rating. The Clippers were the best three-point shooting team, knocking down 41.4 percent by far. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have led the way for the Clippers but the truth is no one will believe in this team until they perform in the playoffs.
The Clippers were not exempt from some standings shenanigans. LA decided to rest both George and Leonard the last two games of the season. The goal was to finish in the fourth seed to stay in a different bracket from the Lakers and it worked! The Clippers finished fourth and will square off with Luka Doncic and Dallas in the first round once again.
The Clippers did struggle against the Mavericks, losing the season series 2-1. The big issue was the 27.8 percent they shot from three against Dallas. That and getting the line an average of just 14 times are areas L.A. will have to address to move on.
The good news for the Clippers is they got Serge Ibaka for the last two games of the season. In limited minutes he averaged 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds. Getting him back gives Tyronn Lue more lineup flexibility as they head into the playoffs.
This week: 8th | Last week: 6th
Encouraging player from this season: Paul George
George has certainly left himself open to scrutiny a lot over the last few years. But the other LA Clippers star had a great season when he was on the floor. We saw some of the best scoring from him we’ve ever seen. He was the best shot maker this year compared to any other years of his career. This also was the best playmaking we’ve ever seen out of him. George wasn’t able to stay on the court as much as he hoped, but we see what a healthy PG means for the Clippers in their pursuit of success.
Player you want more from: Paul George
It’s Playoff P time, and that means George will open up to even more scrutiny. He’s had some monster moments in the postseason throughout his career and huge games in the post-Indiana days. He’s also had some pretty embarrassing moments in the playoffs, often when backs are against the wall. The Clippers need him to be a star this postseason. They need him to not focus on excuses for shortcomings and just keep overcoming the odds and hurdles in front of the team. Otherwise, the scrutiny will continue to intensify.
Feel good heading into the playoffs? It’s impossible to know with the Clippers. They’re one of a few teams that are easily talented enough to win it all but have a lot to prove for us to fully buy in.