After a tough loss on Mar. 5 to the Atlanta Hawks, questions about the future of the franchise continue to peg the Los Angeles Clippers' Front Office and coaching staff. The team’s questionable decision making process, exemplified by the unveiling of a new mascot named Chuck the Condor— who bears an uncanny resemblance to team owner Steve Ballmer—seems to have almost no bearing on the real world, where sometimes bad ideas are rejected because they are inherently bad. If it weren’t for the continuing and unbelievable offensive domination from guards Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, the team certainly wouldn’t be sitting comfortably on the heels of Oklahoma City for the third seed in the Western Conference.
Despite wins over teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers are still viewed as a sort of underachieving anomaly rather than as a possible contender. Part of this perspective arises from the fact that a win over the Thunder really came despite the performance of the Clippers rather than because of them. Oklahoma City blew a late double-digit lead over the Clippers in the fourth quarter—a move usually executed by the Clippers themselves—and the Clippers’ bench led the charge to an unlikely victory.
A resounding victory over Western Conference foe—and rival DeAndre Jordan suitor—the sixth seed Dallas Mavericks on Mar. 7 continues the on-again-off-again confusion that is the Clippers offense. Most of this is dependent upon Doc Rivers and the mediocre players he hands minutes to seemingly without consideration. Why Rivers gives the ancient Paul Pierce 20 minutes or the mediocre Austin Rivers 25 minutes a game is beyond this sports journalist. J.J. Redick only receives 25 minutes a game and far outperforms Rivers at the shooting guard position. Truly, there appears to be no valid reason why Austin Rivers receives these excessive minutes beyond his last name.
The late addition to the team, Jeff Green, who was picked up at the trade deadline has proven himself to be synecdoche for the Clippers and their style of unreliable and streaky performances. In the eight games he has played with the Clippers, he has demonstrated how streaky he can be. His best game, a 22 point outing against the Sacramento Kings, contrasts wildly with two 0 point games out of three of his last outings. Putting up 0 points, in an average of 18 minutes a game is hardly ideal for a team which needs depth. Somehow, however, the Clippers won both of those games despite Green’s lackluster performance.
This week the Clippers face Oklahoma City, Cleveland Cavaliers, and San Antonio, and it will be seen whether the Clippers can finally make their case for being in the conversation as a contender. Both matches against Oklahoma City and San Antonio are away from home and, as such, they will be difficult contests which hopefully the Clippers can align with a on-shooting day rather than one of their signature off-days.