The schedule for the LA Clippers, as well as the rest of the NBA, is officially out. We’ve already earmarked a few of the key matchups that fans should tune into this season, but the Clippers also always have to deal with oddities in their schedule due to being the third tenant in their home arena.
The Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, in that order, get priority in selecting dates and times for games in Crypto.com Arena. That puts the Clippers behind the 8-ball which tends to lead them to some of the things we’re about to cover right here. So, let’s look at a few of the key takeaways from the 2022-23 schedule for the Clippers.
The good news for the Clippers is that they won’t be dealing with 14 sets of back-to-backs like they did last season, but the bad news is that the schedule makers did them no favors because they’re actually going to have more this season. The Clippers have 15 back-to-backs in 2022-23, with three of those sets actually featuring both games at home. Those three sets are as follows: Oct. 30 vs New Orleans and Oct. 31 vs Houston; Nov. 6 vs Utah and Nov. 7 vs Cleveland; and, Dec. 14 vs Minnesota and Dec. 15 vs Phoenix.
The Clippers went 6-8 on the second night of back-to-backs last season, but it should be noted they started the year 0-5 in that regard before finishing up 6-3 after that. In 2020-21, the Clippers went 11-2 on the second night of back-to-backs, and in 2019-20 they were 6-5. Either way, this could have turned out worse for the Clippers considering their arena situation at the present moment, but getting 15 back-to-backs is not ideal. Due to Kawhi Leonard returning from a partially torn right anterior cruciate ligament that saw him miss all of last season, don’t expect the star to play in both games of a back-to-back.
Last season, the Clippers were tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the most sets of five-games-in-seven-nights (i.e. 5-in-7s) in the league; 5. It was pretty tough to wrap your mind around that fact considering there were seven teams in the NBA last season who did not play a single 5-in-7 stretch. This year, though, the Clippers will not see themselves playing a 5-in-7. That’s a lot better than last season, that’s for certain.
If you’re wondering how the Clippers did last season in those five 5-in-7 stints, they went a combined 10-15 while losing the fifth and final game in that stretch on four occasions. The only final game of a 5-in-7 stint that they won was the miraculous victory on New Year’s Day on the road against the Brooklyn Nets. As mentioned, though, no 5-in-7s for the Clippers this season. That’s a great thing.
THE GRAMMY TRIP: JAN. 18, 2023 - FEB. 7, 2023
Every year, the Clippers and Lakers (and Kings) have to depart Crypto.com Arena so the place can get ready to host the annual music gala, the Grammy Awards. The 2022 version of the show was postponed, but because the Clippers already had their schedule locked in, they were sent on the road anyways and had to deal with the ramifications regardless of the postponement. Well, the award show is coming back to Los Angeles in 2023.
As a result, the Clippers are once again going on the road for a lengthy trip. Following their home game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 17, the Clippers will pack their bags. However, unlike past years, the Clippers do return for one game before heading back out on the road to complete their trip: Jan. 26 vs San Antonio. They’ll then go back out until returning Feb. 8 to play the Dallas Mavericks. In essence, the Clippers, from Jan. 18 through Feb. 7, will play one game at home in a 20-day span. The 2023 Grammy Awards will take place Feb. 5.
HOME GAMES BEFORE ALL-STAR BREAK: 28
It might seem like an odd thing to keep track off, but last season the Clippers played 31 home games prior to the All-Star break. This season, however, the Clippers will see 28 games played at home which means they’ll have 13 after the break. That actually might benefit the Clippers as a whole as the season goes on. The more home games later in the season, the better chance of practicing and also limiting wear and tear.
Of those 28 home games prior to the All-Star break, 17 come against playoff teams from the prior year. It’s going to test the Clippers early on, but it’ll also be nice to see where the team stands by the time the All-Star break rolls around. If they’re able to take care of business in those home games, they could be in a great position to secure a very high seed in the Western Conference. The Clippers are 44-15 (.746) at home when Kawhi Leonard plays. If that pace stays as it is, that’d put them at 21-7 at home as the All-Star break rolls around.
SOFT HOME SCHEDULE TO FINISH
While we’re on the subject of home games, we might as well look at the schedule the Clippers have for themselves at the end of the season. The 13 home games remaining after the All-Star break sees the Clippers play only six times against a team that made the playoffs the prior season. But the biggest factor is that only two of those come in the team’s final seven home games.
The Clippers finish their home slate with games against the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder (twice), New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls, Lakers and Trail Blazers. Only New Orleans and Chicago made the postseason out of that group. The other four teams managed to go a combined 106-222 (.323) last season. While there will be improvements from a couple of those teams this season, it should be a nice cushy landing for the Clippers as they near the end of the runway at home.
MORE AFTERNOON MATINEES
Nothing screams “third tenant” more than having to play an afternoon home game, and the Clippers usually get to experience that more than any other team in the league. In fact, this past season the Clippers had seven instances of an afternoon home game. They went 5-2 in those games. They had six such games in both 2020-21 and 2019-20, going 3-3 in each season. Well, buckle up, because it’s about to get gnarly.
The Clippers have 9 afternoon home starts this season. Yes, you read that right: 9. Three of them start at 12 PM local time while the other six start at 1 PM local time. That means no more 12:30 PM games. Essentially, a fifth of the Clippers’ home schedule consists of afternoon games. It’s an astounding figure when put into proper context. It’s the most afternoon home games they’ve had in a season since they had 10 such games in the 2015-16 season. They went 8-2 in them that year. The 9 afternoon home games represents the third-most for the Clippers in a single season since they moved into Crypto.com Arena — then known as STAPLES Center — in 1999.
INTUIT DOME CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH
The new arena is set to open prior to the 2024-25 season, but it really cannot come soon enough as far as the Clippers are concerned. The fact they constantly continue to get shafted in the schedule is just a byproduct of former owner Donald Sterling’s lasting stench on the organization since his lack of planning and promptness got the Clippers into this mess in the first place.
Back before the Clippers actually moved into the now-named Crypto.com Arena, they had reportedly been offered the second tenant spot ahead of the Lakers, but Sterling took his time, the Lakers swooped in and the Clippers then were reduced to the schedule scraps that the Kings and Lakers left behind. Once Intuit Dome finally opens, a lot of this will fall by the wayside. Until then, though, the Clippers have to deal with what Sterling left behind.