The moment the clock ran out on April 16th, I was overwhelmed more so by the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers wouldn’t play NBA basketball for another six months than them not progressing into the playoffs. Even though that team making a longer appearance in the postseason felt like a just reward for their work throughout the regular season, the bigger disappointment was that it would take so long to see them back.
Well, that six-month sentence has been served, and we don’t have to wait any longer.
What that time has allowed the franchise to do is get its two best players back to full health, sign another player with star experience, and continue to foster the good vibes that got them into playoff contention in the first place. With Kawhi Leonard back in the fold, Paul George looking sharper than ever, John Wall onboard and the rest of the guys completely bought into what is required to secure success, the Clippers feel more equipped than ever to make a sustained push towards a title.
There remain question marks about who will be the starting point guard when crunch time comes around, how the Clippers will fill their 15th roster spot, and what their strongest lineups will look like. However, they’re all reasons to be excited about what’s to come and the possibilities this season will serve up. John Wall and Reggie Jackson will be given the chance to duel it out, we’ll likely have another hero to cheer for before long, and whatever combinations Ty Lue chooses to throw at teams will involve those we already know and love.
So what will opening night against the Los Angeles Lakers tell us? Probably very little in the grand scheme of the season. It may well come to reinforce the gap between the two LA teams, though a win for the Purple and Gold side of The Crypt would represent something of an upset at this stage. The result won’t impact either team too much though, they’ll feel like bigger challenges will come in a variety of shapes and sizes throughout the season. Yet opening night is always a chance to impress.
That will be the only expectation for the Clippers; simply, show us what you’ve got. Demonstrate just how tight it is at the top in the battle to be the starting point guard, show us that whoever fills that final roster spot is going to have to be serious about their business to win their minutes, and display the true extent of the strength in depth that years of careful construction of this squad has created.
If there’s one thing a big win will do, it’s send a message to the rest of the league, because the eyes of the NBA world will be on this one. Let’s give them something to write home about.
Let’s go Clippers.