Game 52 is in the books, which means it’s time for our fifth check-in of the season. Here are 10 thoughts about the Clippers from these last 11 games.
- The team went 6-5 over the last 11 games, meaning the Clippers have been at or within one game of .500 during ever single 10/11-game interval. That is tremendous consistency, but also consistent mediocrity. The Clippers had an offensive rating of 109.3 points per 100 possessions during this stretch and a defensive rating of 109.5. That gives the Clippers a net rating on minus-0.2 points per 100 possessions, once again, basically average.
- Retire the black jerseys, please. The Clippers are 11-10 in white (3-3 in the last 11, the visual representation of how average this team has been) and 9-7 in blue, but 2-8 in black, including losses in the last two during this stretch.
- Luke Kennard has been the key to the team’s offense. The most obvious example came in his heroic game-winning stretch to propel the Clippers past the Wizards, but Kennard has kept it going. He is shooting 58.3 percent on twos and 44 percent on threes since exiting the health and safety protocols seven games ago, and that’s in spite of slumping on his immediate return. The Clippers are a team-best plus-81 in Kennard’s 196 minutes, and it’s clear how much livelier the team’s scoring attack looks with him on the floor because of his movement and shooting gravity.
- Should we talk about the comebacks? Let’s talk about the comebacks. The Clippers won despite being down by 24-plus points in three separate games, the most of any team in NBA history for one season. They did that all since our last check-in.
When Amir Coffey was asked if the team thinks the game gets easier when they are down big, maybe because the pressure is off, he couldn’t help but crack a huge smile before he answered, “I wouldn’t say that. I just think that this team has a certain grit about them that if we do get down, the game’s not over. Obviously you don’t want to go down 20 or 30 anytime, but I think with this group we have here, it’s a statement that we could come back.”
- Speaking of Coffey, he has been the team’s workhorse since entering the starting lineup. He is averaging the most minutes per game while still canning 38 percent of his threes. If you saw this coming when Coffey struggled through Summer League and preseason, cash those lotto tickets now.
- The team as a whole deserves credit for its resilience. Paul George hasn’t played since December. Kennard missed four games during this stretch, as did Marcus Morris Sr., and Nicolas Batum and Isaiah Hartenstein were out for two as well. Someone always manages to step up.
- One of those stay-ready heroes? Jay Scrubb. I’ll admit, I doubted what Scrubb could do in what is essentially his rookie season after he was a de facto redshirt in 2020-21, but perhaps it was unfair to judge him against the Pelicans, who soundly have the Clippers’ number. In Scrubb’s subsequent outings, he’s been a defensive revelation, using his 6’5 frame to play a meaningful role in the switching system. He got in Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kyle Kuzma’s way against the Wizards when the Clippers needed Scrubb in the second half. Ty Lue said it was clear that Scrubb was a scorer when he played last year — now the Clippers are starting to figure out what else he can do.
- Another young scorer who is fleshing out the rest of his game is Brandon Boston Jr. The veterans can’t stop talking about Boston’s defensive improvement, and you can see him battling on the boards in a way that belies his rookie frame. He still has some tunnel vision on offense, particularly in transition, but the decision-making is slowly but surely improving.
- There may be a role for Justise Winslow after all. It’s nice to have a dynamic defender who can also bring the ball up after securing a stop. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the third-leading assist man on the team behind the two point guards during this stretch.
- The Clippers probably won’t change their starting lineup, not when they’re finally starting to have some roster consistency after all the injuries and Covid absences. However, it’s worth noting that every player who has started even one game during the last 11 contests has a negative net rating, and the rest of the Clippers are all in the positive. Starting slow has been a problem for this team all season. Sure, they manage to find a way to claw back on many nights, but there has to be some combination of players that can get off to a good start. Right?
More news for Monday:
- Mirjam Swanson explored the chemistry within the Clippers second unit.
- The whole team has been making bets on the NFL Playoffs. Now it’s Luke Kennard’s Cincinnati Bengals against everyone else’s Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl.
- Zach Lowe shouted out Amir Coffey in his weekly 10 Things. I also went deep on Coffey’s playmaking.
- This was a funny alternate All-Star team of players who wear T-shirts underneath their jerseys.
- While Kawhi Leonard goes through his ACL rehab, here’s a look at the fraternity of NBA players who help each other through the process.