Clippers

Clippers Living up to Expectations so Far

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Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the NBA has postponed their season until further notice. The league is optimistic about the season’s return and completion. Right now, owners see mid-to-late June as a possible return time for the league. For this to happen, games will likely be played without fans to limit large gatherings of people. It’s impossible to predict the future, but the NBA and its organizations are striving to play as quickly as possible.

Although not directly affected, the Clippers had their season taken away during a time they were at their best. It is the fourth quarter of the season, and the Clippers look to be peaking at the perfect time of the year. The team is sitting at 2nd in the West and 4th overall with a 44-20 record. The playoffs are nearing, but nothing is set in stone. The West is still wide open and the Clippers could be in a different spot when the season concludes. While the Clippers wait until their season restarts, let’s look at where they’re at and what they have next.

SCORING POWER

The Clippers have been one of the most high-scoring offenses in the NBA. They have the most 130+ point games this season with 13, and the 2nd-most games with 120+ points with 27. The amount of high-scoring games puts the Clippers at 4th in the NBA in points/game with 116.2. This has led them to a 3rd-best offensive rating of 112.9. Scoring at this efficiency puts them at 3rd in margin of victory at +6.5 points/game. Their offense has put them into the position they are now.

 

One of the best things they do on offense is get to the free-throw line. The Clippers draw an NBA-best 22.8 fouls/game, leading to an NBA-best 26.2 free throws/game (converting 20.8 of them– also the most in the league). This leads to 17.9% of the Clippers’ points being from the charity stripe– the highest percentage in the NBA of a team’s points to stem from there.

IMPACT PLAYERS

Four players have led the Clippers to where they are now. These players are vital to the team because two lead the starting squad and two lead the reserve unit. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are these impact players. When all four are playing, the Clippers are 22-7. As you might expect, the team is at its best when their four best players are healthy and on the court. Each player brings their own element that completes the team.

For the first five on the court, Leonard and George bring their versatility to the team. Both players are the complete package because they can shoot, pass, rebound and play defense. Leonard is leading the charge with 26.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and an NBA 5th-best 1.8 steals per game.

George isn’t that far behind him either. He’s posting 21.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Leonard is used to being the leader of his team where George can fit into any role possible. PG has shown that he can lead a team or be the second in command if need be. When both are on the court, opponents are forced to treat them equally because either one of them can rip defenses apart or stop their best player.

When the starters need breaks, opponents may think the Clippers’ best players would be out. Contrarily, two of their best players relieve Kawhi and PG. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are the first ones to come off the bench and are two of the best in the NBA to do so. Williams is averaging 18.7 points and 5.7 assists per game this year, good for 2nd in scoring and 1st in assists coming off the bench. Harrell is dropping the 3rd-most points (18.6/game) while grabbing the 5th-most rebounds (7.1) off the bench. Both are able to score in bunches with Williams and Harrell having five 30+ point games each.

Both bench leaders bring a fire to the team in different ways. Williams brings a competitive edge to the Clippers by pushing himself each game to be the best player possible. This attitude rubs off to the rest of the team and sparks a new level of competitiveness. Harrell is the one who brings the energy and passion to the squad. He makes big plays that set the tone, providing a momentous shift for LA.

REMAINING SCHEDULE 

The Clippers paused play with 18 games remaining in their regular-season schedule. Of those remaining, they are split evenly between home and away. Road contests include trips to Denver, New York, Brooklyn, Detroit, Charlotte, Sacramento, Utah, Los Angeles (Lakers) and Portland. This leaves the other nine games to host Brooklyn, New Orleans, Dallas, Phoenix, Indiana, Oklahoma City, Chicago, Golden State and Minnesota. If the league picks up where it left off, the Clippers have a fighting chance to finish high in the West and possibly end up at the top.

The road schedule is a favorable one considering who they have left. Only the Lakers, Nuggets, Jazz and Nets are in current playoff contention. The Knicks, Pistons, Hornets, Kings and Blazers are sitting on the cusp of the top eight in their conferences. The battles against the Kings and Blazers could be tough with the two being in must-win situations in pursuit of the eight seed. The Clippers are undefeated against the Knicks, Pistons and Hornets this season, so those games shouldn’t be an issue if they stick to the gameplan.

Similar to the remaining away games, the Clippers will welcome four teams — Brooklyn, Indiana, Oklahoma City and Dallas — that are in the playoff race. The Clippers would also host New Orleans, who is in Portland and Sacramento’s boat. For the remaining home games, the Clippers are 2-1 against the Suns, 0-1 against the Bulls, 3-0 against the Warriors, and 2-1 against the Timberwolves. All losses came on the road, so the Clips would have the upper edge at Staples.

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About Jordan Taylor

Los Angeles Clippers Writer. Email: jtfsu@outlook.com | Twitter: @jtfsu98

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