Clippers Lackluster Effort Early in Games
The past week was slow for the Clippers on, and off the court. Their schedule hit a dull as they had four days between games, playing their first contest of the week on Friday against the Warriors. They then made the trip to Denver to face a stout, under-the-radar Nuggets squad. Only playing two games this week provided a good opportunity for Paul George to rehab some bumps, and bruises he had acquired in recent games. He seized the opportunity and sat both games with hamstring tightness and is questionable for the next contest against Cleveland.
Unfortunately, the schedule was not the only thing that slowed down this week. The Clippers have made a recent habit of getting off to slow starts. As was the case often last week, the team faced half time deficits in both games this week. It’s not clear whether the trend is due to missing pieces due to injury, lack of chemistry, or just flat out lack of effort. My vote would go towards the latter, as the team has made competent 4th quarter pushes in both games. One being successful and the other falling just short. Does Paul George coming back to the lineup fix this issue? Is it time to shake up the roster? Or is the team simply becoming complacent with the playoffs still looming far away on the distant horizon?
The Warriors came into the contest with only 9 wins on the season and thankfully left Staples center without securing their 10th. It wasn’t for lack of trying though. You wouldn’t know the teams records’ varied as much as they did just from the box score. The Warriors shot only 20.5% from deep and 38.5% from the field as a team. Yet they managed to stay in the game and even hold a 4th quarter lead. It took a masterful game from Kawhi Leonard and a 12-2 run to start the final frame of action to put this game away. For a team with championship hopes, this performance against a team with a win percentage under 25% was slightly worrisome to say the least.
Game Stats Leaders
Leonard – 36 pts, 9 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk, 56% FG
Williams – 21 pts, 8 ast, 2 reb, 1 blk, 50% FG
Beverley – 12 pts, 11 reb, 9 ast, 3 blk, 3 3P
Harrell – 11 pts, 10 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk, 56% FG
Harkless – 9 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl, 80% FG, 50% 3P
The Clippers, for the first time in a couple weeks, managed to hang onto a one-point lead after the 1st quarter. This small victory did not last long however as the Nuggets exploded for a 37 point 2nd quarter, taking a 14-point lead into the halftime break. Denver would hold onto the lead for the rest of the game, but it did not come easily. Once again, the Clippers found their intensity late, pouring in a 15-3 run to cut the lead to 108-102 with 1:45 left.
The following possession however, Patrick Beverley was handed his sixth personal foul while trying to keep the much stronger Jokic out of the post. Like much of Clipper Nation, Doc Rivers disagreed with the call. Unlike Clipper Nation, he was punished for his complaints receiving back-to-back technicals and getting tossed form the game. The quick four-point swing halted the comeback in its tracks and sent the Clippers home with a 1-1 week.
Game Stats Leaders
Leonard – 30 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl
Williams – 26 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl
Harrell – 25 pts, 8 reb, 2 blk, 1 stl, 69% FG
Beverley – 9 pts, 7 ast, 6 reb, 1 stl, 75% 3P
Zubac – 6 pts, 9 reb, 1 ast, 100% FG
Clippers Trade Rumors
With the team struggling through its last five outings, trade speculation has been at an all-time high. The biggest question marks include a play-making PG, a defensive C, and what pieces the front office is willing to give up for either. A few players the Clippers have been rumored to be looking into are listed below. Disclaimer: I am not suggesting nor promoting any of these trade options, only reporting rumors as they have been released.
Clippers Week Preview
The Clippers’ next three games in the upcoming week include the Cavaliers and Magic at home, and a trip to NO to play the Pelicans. These three teams have combined for a 37.3% win percentage so far this season. With Paul George still questionable and the team all-but-limping through their last several contests, numbers on papers don’t mean much. All three of these contests can be considered trap games, especially if one or more of the rotation guys is sidelined with injury. On the other hand, the lesser competition could be a prime opportunity for the team to regroup and start commanding games from the start instead of just the last six minutes of the fourth quarter.
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