by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
LOS ANGELES –
While the Los Angeles Clippers’ 16-6 record isn’t the best in the league, their start to the season has been impressive nonetheless considering the injuries and a brutal schedule.
The Clippers came into the season knowing their two new stars weren’t going to play together for the first month as Paul George was recovering from shoulder surgeries. Not to mention fellow All-Star star Kawhi Leonard has also missed seven games due to load management and a mild knee injury.
Key role players like Patrick Beverley (calf), Landry Shamet (ankle sprain), and Rodney McGruder (hamstring strain) have also missed time.
As if getting Leonard, George, and others on the court at the same time wasn’t enough of a challenge, the issue was compounded by a very tough schedule.
Through these first 21 games, the Clippers have had the third toughest schedule in the league yet just won seven straight games recently while pulling out some big time wins.
They’ve defeated elite teams like the Lakers, Jazz, Rockets, Celtics, and Mavericks. Some of those victories required clutch finishes and being able to grind out wins against quality opponents for a team that’s still finding itself is nothing short of impressive.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Leonard, George, and Lou Williams are capable and proven closers that can bail the Clippers out on any given night.
Even with those clutch finishes or games where they’ve scored as many as 150 points, the offense remains a work in progress.
“We’ve all come from different teams where we are used to having the basketball in our hands,” Williams said. “You put all those things together and you have to take a back seat to other guys at certain times in the game. I think that’s just a natural progression that you just have to build out the chemistry where everybody’s on the same page.”
Head coach Doc Rivers also spoke about the team’s progression.
“We’re still growing,” Rivers said. “We can win games; we’ve won a couple on this trip where we didn’t play well or play great and we were able to crawl out. When we play at our pace offensively, I think we are really good and we have the ability to get stops in a row.”
The Clippers’ depth, toughness, and ability to beat you both offensively and defensively make them a scary team. What’s even scarier is the Clippers will only improve with time and repetition, making them potentially the team to beat come spring time.