The Clippers have won five games on this current road trip, but a couple underlying problems could hurt them long-term
The Los Angeles Clippers have started the season on a rather bumpy, but not catastrophic road.
Having a record of 10-5, the Clippers were expected to be better than ever this season and be a powerful threat come playoff time.
Yet, they aren’t sending that particular message to the NBA, the conference and not even the Pacific Division.
Although the 5 losses have been against fairly successful teams so far (Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies), the Clippers have the skill and efficiency to surpass even the top teams in the west.
They got off to a good start with a convincing 102-85 win over the Houston Rockets (12-4) at Toyota Center.
But if you look at the collective effort this year, it just hasn’t come together.
Los Angeles, however, on-top of the big win over Houston, pulled out two wins on the road against the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons.
Albeit it was against two Eastern Conference teams not even close to the Clippers’ caliber, but wins are wins and LA will gladly take them right now.
In order for the Clippers to start climbing up the Western Conference and get back to being among the league’s elite, there are three things they need to focus on to do just that.
1) The SF Position Needs Serious Help
The Clippers have had one solid starting small forward in 34-year-old Matt Barnes. Yet no one amongst the second unit or even deeper can produce quite as well.
However, Barnes (left) has missed the last two games due to injury and head coach Doc Rivers slid Reggie Bullock into the lineup.
Of course there’s always Jamal Crawford, but Crawford is the best sixth man in the league. That’s what he does best, so it’s smart to leave him be and on occasion, incorporate him into the three-guard lineups Rivers uses sometimes.
Bullock has done a decent job, but the Clippers need experience and a knowledgeable player covering or even taking Barnes’ place. If Los Angeles wants to even think about a title run, they’re going to need to start talking up some trade possibilities pretty soon.
2) Be More Defensively Driven
Everyone who knows basketball and sports general understand the saying “defense wins championships”, which is mostly true.
Of course you need a productive offense, which is what the Clippers have, or should have. While the Clips have a respectable offense, it’s spread out decently and they have four players averaging double-digits.
Holding the explosive Rockets to 85 points Friday night definitely is a step in the right direction.
However, consistency is what is needed for LA to truly be elite in the West. Their win over the Pistons on Wednesday was mostly due to their physical play, holding Detroit to 44.9% shooting and Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan (right) grabbed 11 rebounds.
But that was the Pistons, it’s about doing what they did to Houston at a consistent rate that will legitimize their push to the top.
Keeping teams from shooting and snagging rebounds on both sides of the court needs to come regularly for LA to start racking up wins.