After cruising through an important five-game winning streak, the Clippers have stumbled and are now mired in a three-game losing streak. And they are stuck, once a game, just a game below the .500 mark and will play for what seems like their millionth shot at escaping a losing record — this time, against the Denver Nuggets.
Sure, a three-day rest could be just what this team needed, especially with 73 hard-fought games under their belts. But a deeper reflection of the last handful of games and a more focused attempt at a win, more likely, is what this team needs.
And a general trend in their losing streak is inconsistencies. Inconsistencies in quarters and from players.
When: Tuesday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. PT
Where: Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado
How to watch/listen: TNT, BSSC (Local TV), KKSE-FMKLAC/KWKW-LAC (RADIO)
Opposing perspective: Denver Stiffs
Spread: Clippers +6.5, Nuggets -6.5
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Nuggets: Will Barton, Monté Morris, Jeff Green, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokić
Clippers: Norman Powell, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston, Jay Scrubb — OUT
Nuggets: Vlatko Cancar, Jamal Murray, Zeke Nnaji, Michael Porter Jr. — OUT
In their last three-game stretch, it was a lackluster quarter that ultimately cost them the game — like their second quarter against the Jazz, where they were outscored 41-14.
In these dull quarters, the Clippers look sloppy with the ball and struggle to find the bottom of the net. They take out-of-rhythm shots and rarely beat defenders down the court for easier looks near the rim or have a clear-cut first-option to put points on the board.
This brings us to the other aspect of the team’s recent inconsistencies: inconsistent nights from players.
Reggie Jackson would explode for 23 for one night and struggle early for just 7 points the game after. Ivica Zubac 24 to 2. And 22 to 5 from Marcus Morris Sr. Admittedly, these low-scoring nights from the key players are, to an extent, because they were taken out early in the game. Still, more should be expected from the team’s role players should they want to win games consistently.
On a brighter note, however, it’s also this team’s depth that seldom spares them from injuries and off-nights.
Even with three of their best players out with injuries, the team has four players — the likes of Robert Covington, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, and Isaiah Hartenstein — that can give the team a big push, both offensively and defensively.
Covington has been highly accredited as a hard-fighting defender whose contributions are much greater than numbers on the stat sheet. Kennard and Mann, whether it’d be from distance or near the rim, can and have put up much-needed points for the Clippers. And a lengthy and athletic Hartenstein often brings out the defensive edge the team just needs.
Regardless, Ty Lue and the Clippers should look to provide more consistently, especially if they wish to survive out of the inauspicious eight-seed position into the 2022 Playoffs.
This post will serve as the game thread. Enjoy the game, and comment below.