The Los Angeles Clippers entered the All-Star break with the 4th seed in hand. Since then, the Clippers have gone 1-5 and have slid down to the 8th seed looking like a play-in team with each passing day. Digging deeper however, it is clear the team has its flaws just like any other, but these could be fatal and lead to another failed era in the Clippers history.
Ty Lue has proven to be a championship level coach in the past. Lately, there have been a few questionable decisions, specifically with lineups and late game situations. One that sticks out is the inconsistency of Robert Covington.
Covington is a career 36% shooter from 3-point land and has been one of the most consistent wing defenders since his days with the 76ers. The Clippers are in need of defense behind Kawhi and Paul George as they’ve given up an average of 131.6 points a game in the six games they’ve played since All-Star break. Oddly enough with everything that RoCo brings, he’s fallen out of the Clippers rotation. In the from behind victory against the Grizzlies, Covington received a DNP.
If the Clippers plan on getting out of the 8th seed and regaining ground in the standings, it may be time for Lue to give Covington another look in the rotation rather than allowing him to rot on the end of the bench.
It’s deeper than Westbrook
In the game in which the Clippers lost to a Steph Curry-less Golden State Warriors, a viral clip of Russell Westbrook went around for the wrong reasons. Draymond Green didn’t just opt to sag off of just the former MVP, but chose to sit deep in the paint whenever he had the ball. This tactic contributed to Westbrook turning in a 3-12 shooting night, along with four turnovers which have been a consistent problem for Westbrook.
At face value, some will take this as Westbrook being the issue since the team is 1-5 since his signing. There is blame to put on the two franchise cornerstones as well.
Paul George has had his fair share of moments this season which showcased the All-NBA level talent that he is. He has also had moments that have shown why the Clippers have fallen short in this George-Leonard era, including a 3-15 shooting night against the Warriors. Kawhi Leonard has also shared some blame. Only appearing in 39 of the 67 games this season, it has taken Leonard some time to get back to his All-NBA form.
This is evident through the Clippers defense. In the months of February and March, the Clippers have ranked 22nd and 18th in defensive rating respectively.
Clippers on the Clock
Since the acquisition of George and Leonard, the championship window for the Clippers opened and it opened tremendously. Regardless of roster construction and expectations, the Clippers seem to consistently have issues whether it’s injury luck or collapses like we witnessed run 2020.
2020 was the only playoff run where the Clippers had a complete roster. Since then Leonard and George have both struggled with injuries that have prevented them from actually putting together a run at the title. Time isn’t on their side. The Western Conference is as brutal and cluttered as ever and the Clippers still have yet to find some sort of continuity post All-Star break. The Clippers could very well see their window closing with each loss, leading to the front office to have to make some tough decisions soon.
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