You didn’t have time to watch any games last night, so you open up the scores and see the Clippers beat the Lakers. At first, you think, “Yeah, the Lakers really suck this year.” But then you remember the Clippers don’t have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George available, and they still won? Not only that, they are 8th in the West with a .500 (27-27) record while the Lakers are behind them, 9th at .472 (25-28). Here’s why the Clippers are the better Crypto.com team this year.
Consistency wins regular season games
The Los Angeles Clippers have been without their two best players for almost two months now, and somehow they’re one of the league’s best defensive teams. Their defensive rating (107.5) ranks sixth in the league which is why they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the mediocre Western Conference. Just look at this clip below and observe how well the Clippers rotate and apply ball pressure on their opponents — something that has been consistent all season.
Surprisingly, for a team filled with a bunch of capable scorers, the Clippers have been up and down on offense. Their offensive rating of 109.3 points per 100 possessions has made them an average team. There are some nights where the Clips seem unstoppable because they shoot lights out, and other nights where they’re a disaster because they can’t buy a single basket. Ultimately though, it’s been their defense that wins them games. All their offense has to do is perform at a mediocre level, and that will give them a chance every game.
The reason why the Clippers’ defense has a chance to help them compete for every game is that they give opponents such a tough time to score against them. They do their best to prevent allowing three-point shots, make two-pointers difficult, and avoid letting the opponent make trips to the free-throw line. The combination of Nicolas Batum, Eric Bledsoe, and rookie Brandon Boston Jr. adds solid athleticism and height to the team’s overall defense.
However, the biggest challenge for the Clippers’ defense is their rebounding. The team defends best when their big man Ivica Zubac is off the floor because it strengthens the perimeter defense. The thing is, the Clippers’ opponents will feast on the boards if Zubac isn’t on the floor, so it’s a slippery slope for L.A. The challenge for L.A’s defense is to generate enough turnovers and missed opportunities, especially when Zubac isn’t on the floor to collect those rebounds.
Ty Lue, coach of the year?
The Clippers’ well-oiled defense wouldn’t have been possible without their genius head coach and one-time champion Ty Lue. Lue has shaped the culture of this franchise and has made sure his team competes hard every game. It’s easy to tell based on the effort the team displays every game. Lue has brought the best out of Amir Coffee, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, and the rest, who have all become valuable scorers for this team.
The biggest reason for the Clippers’ average performance this season (even without their superstars) is because they’re well-coached and rely on a defensive system that helps them compete for every game. The exact opposite of their more popular roommate.