No one in Lob City can say it hasn’t been a wild ride. From superstar injuries to institutionalized nepotism to almost taking the Golden State Warriors out with a 13-0 run in the last seconds of garbage time, the Los Angeles Clippers continue to inspire wonder and curiosity.
Since the end of the break, the Clippers were the first team to ever play two teams in a row with win percentages over 800 (minimum of 50 games played). A resounding win over the perennially good San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 18 raised the hopes and spirits of Clipper nation which were then (kinda/sorta) quashed on Feb. 20 against the Golden State Warriors. The results from this week’s match-ups continue the unpredictable nature of the Clippers. Yesterday they had the potential to beat a top-tier team like San Antonio, but then today they lacked the team-cohesiveness required to overwhelm a team like the Warriors.
To add to those questions of potential and actualization of potential, this week, just before the trade deadline, the Clippers acquired 6-foot-9 forward Jeff Green from the Memphis Grizzlies. Green could be a great addition to what has, thus far, been a weak and shallow bench. In his debut, against the Golden State Warriors no less, Green struggled and posted a meager 5 points (on 2-7 shooting) and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes. It isn’t unreasonable to expect that it will take time for Green to adjust to playing effectively on a new team despite having played for Doc Rivers in the past. You have to hope that Doc Rivers shows more patience for his new player than he showed for Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith after acquiring them, neglecting their development, and then subsequently trading them away in the last couple weeks.
The loss to the Warriors on Feb. 20 was particularly difficult to watch. After trailing the entire game, although they did fight hard enough to not get blown out, bench players Pablo Prigioni and C.J. Wilcox led a tremendous resurgence the last few minutes of garbage time in which they nearly toppled the champs. Then, down 3 points with 5 seconds left, Wilcox came up with a steal but neglected to call time out and missed a shot that could have tied the game. This oversight can hardly be blamed on Wilcox (who has played a total of 137 minutes in his career). An oversight like this must be blamed squarely on Doc Rivers who seemed resigned to the loss and was surprised by his bench making such a run to end the game. This marks the third time this season that the Clippers have faltered against the Warriors (after nearly beating them).
After going 1-1 with the Western Conference leaders, the Clippers now have a 4-game week against the bottom-of-the-barrel teams with match-ups against Phoenix, Denver, Sacramento, and Brooklyn in which to test out Jeff Green and, hopefully, continue to grow together as a team and work out the kinks in preparation for Blake Griffin's return in March.