Despite them coming off a run into the Western Conference Finals, not much was expected from the Clippers at the start of the season. And rightfully so: they were expected to miss their best player in Kawhi Leonard for most, if not all, of the season.
But that wasn’t quite the story.
With Paul George starting his MVP campaign early in the season, the Clippers were one of the West’s top teams with a comfortable spot as the fourth seed. George continued to lead a tour de force as he did in the Playoffs — he averaged 27.6 points on 50 percent shooting, 3.6 assists, and 7.8 rebounds.
Things took quite a turn, however, when the 213 lost George to an unexpected elbow injury.
Down two superstars, the Clippers struggled on the offensive end, at times unable to meet the 100-point mark each night. And despite the younger Amir Coffey and Terance Mann stepping up and playing increased minutes, the team was mired in losing streaks and subsequently falling in the standings.
A much-needed turnaround happened when the Clips acquired a prolific Norman Powell and a tough-defending Robert Covington in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Soon followed a resurgence of hope.
Powell was an instant impact on the floor, averaging 21 points in his first three games in Clipper colors. Covington received high praise from all around the organization for his toughness and ability to impact the game with his defense.
Powell’s success, however, was short-lived.
The Clippers lost Powell to a foot injury just after his third game as a Clipper. Intermittent struggles and successes befell this injury-plagued team as they, by hook or crook, secured a spot in the Play-In tournament.
Sure, this season was not the prettiest. But it still was one for the books.
Even without their best players, led by Tyronn Lue, this team has established itself as one of the league’s toughest-fighting teams, capable of giving any team a fight. More impressively, they’ve earned themselves a new nickname: ‘The Comeback Clips.’ They completed four comebacks of 24 points or more, with one being a thrilling 35-point comeback against the Washington Wizards.
In hindsight, this season built much-needed character for the team — the Clippers have established themselves as one of the league’s hardest-fighting teams. In the absence of the team’s key players, we saw the rise of players like Coffey, Mann, and Isaiah Hartenstein. We also saw what this team, under Lue’s prudence, is capable of.
Now with two of their three stars back in action, the Clippers are back on track heading into the Play-In Tournament. Their final stop will be at Los Angeles against the Oklahoma City Thunder for a shot at ending the season with a five-game winning streak.
When: Sunday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m. PT
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: Welcome to Loud City
Spread: Clippers -12, Thunder +12
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Thunder: Vít Krejčí, Zavier Simpson, Jaylen Hoard, Georgios Kalaitzakis, Isaiah Roby
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston, Jay Scrubb — OUT
Thunder: Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort, Derrick Favors, Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ty Jerome, Tre Mann, Mike Muscala, Kenrich Williams — OUT
This post will serve as the game thread. Enjoy the game, and comment below.
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