The Clippers utterly failed in last year’s playoffs. They lost to Denver in round two, blowing a 3-1 lead. They spoiled everyone’s hopes of seeing a Clippers – Lakers Western Conference finals. The core of the team more or less remained the same. The big loss was Montrezl Harrell who went across town to the Lakers. The postseason failure is mostly attributed to the abysmal performances of Paul George and the lack of a true point guard which they potentially solved which should boost the Clippers playoff chances.
Clippers playoff chances
Vegas predicted them at 46.5 wins which would have placed them at the 2nd spot in the Western Conference. They got the position wrong as the Clippers finished 4th but they did win 47 games.
The offseason was pretty calm for the Clippers. There were no blockbuster trades or any big names or big contracts.
They lost Harrell and replaced him with Serge Ibaka. The Clips brought in Cousins during the season to further add depth to the position. They acquired Luke Kennard in a 3-team trade, giving him a four-year $64 million contract in the process which is a good move.
How the season went
This is a team that plays every game as a true playoff team. Translated, they play slow and boring but on the other hand, it’s quite efficient.
Their offence is mostly based on iso plays and pick and roll initiated by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Out of pick and rolls, they mostly look to shoot but if there is no shot they kick the ball out. Morris, Batum, Ibaka, Kennard and Jackson wait readily for those balls to knock down the shot.
Nobody really stood out this year. Most of the players delivered seasons that were expected of them.
Paul George, nicknamed Pandemic P after terrible performances in the bubble, returned to his old glory days. It’s somewhat of a pattern for him; good season, bad playoffs. But he will need to be good in the playoffs if the Clippers hope to go anywhere and by anywhere we mean the NBA Finals, of course.
As good as the team is and as balanced as they are, they can’t do it without one of their better players playing well. He will be the key for the Clippers playoff chances.
Tyronn Lue envisioned the starting five like this: Reggie Jackson, George, Leonard, Marcus Morris and Ivica Zubac. The rest of the minutes will mostly go to Batum, Ibaka, Beverley and Rondo.
Pretty much all is known and it will mostly come down to the duo of George-Leonard.
Clippers playoff chances: Final thoughts and expectations
The Clippers had a good regular season. They improved their team by a bit talent-wise. On paper and on the court, the team looks quite a bit more cohesive. 47 wins were good enough for the 4th spot in the West but keep in mind they shamelessly tanked the final two games.
Their best players are in good shape, they play good basketball and there seem to be no issues ahead of the postseason.
The goal this year and last year was to win it all. But wishes are one thing and reality is another.
Compared to last year, the Clippers are not considered favourites to win the Championship. We have the Nets, Lakers, Bucks and now Philly, Utah and Phoenix. There is less pressure from the public than last year so that might help them. They will take on Dallas in round one whom they should beat and after that, anything can happen. One should not count them out though.