After edging out a tightly-fought fourth quarter to down the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, the Los Angeles Clippers were without six of their top guys as they fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
If the weekend’s first matchup was contested like it belonged in the postseason, the following night of the back-to-back resembled more of a training exercise for the opposition, though 42 points in the final frame at least made it end respectably.
Here are the takeaways from two very contrasting games…
O ye of little faith
We’ll start at the top of the weekend, the point at which the Clippers released their injury report before their meeting with the Atlanta Hawks, and it revealed that Robert Covington was out due to personal reasons. Immediately, Twitter became ablaze with trade rumors, but mostly fans jumped to the conclusion that the franchise had done the unthinkable in their eyes.
In “ominous Clippers news” Robert Covington is listed out tomorrow due to Personal Reasons— Charles Mockler (@charlesmockler) January 27, 2023
I understand that it has been a rough first half of the season, but the lack of faith being shown not only in the coaching staff throughout so much of this campaign, and also the front office around their next move is unjustified. In recent years, the thinking between those two departments has been joined up and clearly with what is best for the franchise in mind.
Whether Covington’s reduced role this season has been enough on its own to see that goodwill take a complete 180-turn, it seems strange that an organization that has made so many of the right moves to get to this point would still command such distrust.
They could make me look stupid before the trade deadline, but until then I’ve been given little to no reason not to trust the process…
Reggie is back
As the Clippers start to edge their way back to their full complement, it has been so refreshing to see Reggie Jackson look like he’s enjoying his basketball once again, and being damn good at it again too. He had 16 points overall against the Hawks, with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter, as he went 4-for-5 from the field down the stretch.
Last 4 games Reggie has been ON FIRE!— Jacob (@Jacobtheclipper) January 29, 2023
100 ft% pic.twitter.com/7WqXC7LquE
There are conspiracy theories floating around that Reggie’s re-kindling of his basketball love affair in Los Angeles has coincided with the absence of John Wall, though it’s more likely that the team getting back towards full health has really been the driving force behind Jackson’s resurgence.
But it is good to see and the sight of him dancing postgame is a much welcome one, no less because it means he and his teammates are another step closer to their goal…
A help or a hindrance?
There is a wider debate surrounding load management going on around the league right now, with Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr coming out and defending his decision to rest guys by advocating for a shorter season, while former player Richard Jefferson spoke on how it impacts fans and their enjoyment when the stars don’t show up. I get both sides, though I’m inclined in a general sense to side with Kerr on this one.
However, at risk of being a hypocrite, I’d like to see the Clippers being a little bit more inclined to take some risks. Whether this weekend was the right time for that or not is another question, but to see the younger guys suffering in the way they did during that first half on Sunday evening was tough – even if they did show such spirit towards the end to make it respectable.
Tyronn Lue’s job is, of course, to get this team ready to win a championship and giving their stars time to rest and recuperate will be key to that. However, it’s on him and his staff to find a way to make things slightly more respectable in future, because – as Jefferson so passionately pointed out – that could’ve been some kid’s first game last night.
It’s a balancing act, but a little more balance wouldn’t be such a bad thing for a roster so deep…