Clippers Make An Early Stand

 

The original plan was to wait for the Clippers to end this challenging stretch of the schedule and take stock of whatever remained of their spirits before declaring redemption. But then came Monday night in San Antonio, after several other nights in other places, and the original plan went out the window.

The Clippers beat the Spurs for the second time in 12 days. And the Heat. And, on the second night of a back-to-back, the Trail Blazers. Plus the Hawks. In the six games since doubts were raised about their focus, they produced six wins.

So, taking stock: The Clippers are more of a legitimate threat in the West than ever because they responded as a title contender should.

Being placed in the top tier of the West as the regular season opened, as the Clippers should have been by all, is one thing. Actually digging deep to earn the status is quite another … and they just broke out the big shovels. That makes this is no ordinary win streak.

They were inconsistent very early in a way that had nothing to do with missing the injured Chauncey Billups or Grant Hill, nothing to do with working in several key newcomers, or nothing to do with the schedule. They’d beat the Grizzlies and beat the Lakers … and then lose to the Warriors and Cavaliers.

The Clippers had a veteran team and the kind of leadership other teams dream of, and yet they couldn’t sustain the energy at the start of the season, when routines were being established. What would that say for their focus in February and March?

Players clearly understood this and answered. Pushing back began with a home win against the Spurs, which would have been response enough — except that the Clippers pushing. After the bookend win Monday night at San Antonio, they had improved to 8-2, not to mention 5-0 against the Heat, Grizzlies, Lakers and Spurs.

These are still treacherous times on the schedule – the Thunder, Nets and Hawks are up next, all on the road (with Atlanta as the second night of a back-to-back). It is also still very early on the calendar. After an undependable first week, the last six games are an important barometer … as long as the Clippers don’t completely go in the tank the next three.

It is particularly early on the calendar in their case, given what so far has been the season-long absence of Billups (torn Achilles’ tendon) and Hill (bruised knee), with no target date for a return. The Clippers’ bench has a clear advantage over most teams, Chris Paul is playing at a high level and Jamal Crawford provides instant offense as sixth man. The defense is going good, too. But there is still no way of knowing how good the Clippers can be, not until they return to full strength.

Their response after that slow start is a good indication, though, of their talent and, more importantly, their mindset.

9 Comments

  1. Mr X says:

    The clippers are the deepest team in the nba because they have every needed role filled for a championship. They have an instant offense in jamal, an energy guy in Eric, 2 defensive hardballs who would get in your face in matt and hollins, an X factor in Lamar, people may wonder why i consider lamar an x factor and its because if lamar can get healthy and at least play 70% of the level he did in his sixth man of the year days, he will be closer for most clippers game, then they also have veterans who at any given nights that can produce in grant, ronny and bill ups( for now). I didn’t even mention the starting five which shows how deep the clippers are and their starting five can easily compete with any other starting five in the nba. That is why I believe clippers could win the top spot in the west and even probably break the 60win mark this season. Once chemistry is solid, they will be the best team in the nba

  2. Rene says:

    It’s just plain scary when several players on a team’s bench could be full time starters on another team.
    Jamal Crawford can definitely start on another team, same with Bledsoe, Barnes. Billups and Hill were starters on their respective teams last year (Correct me if I’m wrong, but Billups started at the 2 position during a handful of games. Even if he didn’t, he could definitely start on another team).

  3. FreeJack says:

    Saw a lot of naysayers trying to claim that the Clippers beat an “injured” Spurs lineup that wasn’t at full strength. It’s perhaps convenient for them to forget that we still have Billups and Hill wearing suits on the sidelines.

    • FreeJack says:

      Not to mention Butler going out early with his shoulder injury. Clippers were more injured than the Spurs.

  4. Karlo Garcia says:

    Clippers goin 2 get stronger when they get Billups & Hill back.

  5. Game Time says:

    Clippers are doing it and people seem to just keep on hating. Watching the game last night I heard people at the bar saying the refs were paid in favor of the Clippers. I turned to them and asked how come the Spurs have 26 FT attempts and the Clippers 13 (around mid 4th qtr) if that is true? It’s so irritating to hear people continue to knock this team, but I guess they are just jealous Laker fans or something. Speaking of which, why is it the Lakers have the easiest schedule out of all the top teams?

  6. newyorksteelo says:

    The NBA is changing and this team is proof of it.

  7. @A1Bold says:

    As a fan of the Clippers since the days of Danny Manning & Ron Harper, I am ELATED to see them off to a fantastic start! I’ve said every year since the the team is legit (as a fan of course) but this squad is LEGIT. They don’t even have Hill & Billups back yet. I know it’s early, but the Clippers already have a chemistry established that will continue to grow throughout the season. Now I know Lakers Stans will want to talk about history and what was and blah blah blah, whatever. Lakers are my 2nd favorite team, but all that matters is now, so regardless of the history, this team is good this very moment. Mark my words come playoff time, CLIPPERS IN THE FINALS!

  8. Hm says:

    You should worry about the Lakers, guy. They won against 6 lottery teams and have played the least road games so far. Clippers have beaten most good teams already and the Spurs twice.