The Los Angeles Clippers have fallen below .500 having lost both nights of a back-to-back; first against the Philadelphia 76ers 120-110, and then again in a blow out versus the Utah Jazz 126-103.
As fans continue to question the direction they’re heading in, internally – both within the organization and within the league as a whole – there doesn’t seem to be quite as much concern about their playoff prospects, but Clipper Nation is yet to be convinced their club has what it takes to make a deep run.
Anyway, into the takeaways…
A guard glut
Once again, Tyronn Lue found himself fending off questions about breaking up combinations of guards in his rotations after the loss to the Sixers. During that game, the Clippers were killed in the minutes that Reggie Jackson and Norman Powell played together, which the head coach acknowledged despite indicating his hand was somewhat forced by a minutes restriction.
I asked Ty Lue about the Reggie Jackson and Norman Powell pairing, and he said the Clippers are looking for ways to break it up.— Joey Linn (@joeylinn_) January 18, 2023
I asked him why they got so many minutes together tonight, and he said: “Minutes restrictions.”
When everybody is fully healthy, it becomes hard to see where guys like Reggie Jackson and John Wall fit into the rotation, though I’m confident that the former will at least find a way to get his minutes and make the most of them. However, if that starting five is all but settled upon, a bench unit of Norman Powell, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington and, hopefully, a proper backup big man means it will be a case of picking and choosing minutes for the team’s point guards.
That’s quite the turnaround from the endless discourse that a playmaking point guard is exactly what this roster needed…
Front office fears
You can’t help but feel bad for John Wall on a personal level, if the reports circulating the league right now are true. He’s a good guy who deserves a good fit, but the Clippers experiment just hasn’t really worked for him so far, and the combination of his role and contract may make him one of the more dispensable pieces that the franchise possesses.
The concern for fans is that the front office feels this squad still needs one big move and is willing to sacrifice its depth to bring in that big player. Terance Mann is a name that keeps being thrown into potential trade scenarios, which would be a travesty, while any deal that involves Robert Covington would equally be met with sadness and a sense of what could have been.
The next move Lawrence Frank could be a big one, in many ways…
In a wider sense, there are some deep and justifiable worries about the Clippers. However, in isolation, they came up against an in-form Sixers squad and were seriously shorthanded against the Jazz. The team knows that the time is now to turn up the heat, and you’d imagine internal decisions will continue to trend in that direction as they have through recent games.
PG:— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) January 18, 2023
"I mean... we've just been behind the 8 ball just in terms of injuries and lineups and guys in and out."
"Urgency starts now"
With their lead ball handler back healthy, Kawhi Leonard looking back to his old self, Mann and Ivica Zubac continuing to be the ultimate role players and Ty finally starting to throw out the combinations that don’t work – I know it took way too long, but better late than never – things should start to click into place. We may not see that straightaway in games against guys like Joel Embiid or even Lauri Markannen in his current guise, but the proof should be in the pudding come crunch time.
OK? Hopefully that will keep the demons from the door for at least another few days.