The Clippers are healthy and have won seven straight—are they a threat to make the Finals?
The Clippers might be one of the most confounding contenders in recent memory.
They boast one of the best starting lineups in the league (15.7 net rating, second in NBA), yet one of the worst benches. Their offense leads the league in efficiency (109.6), yet their defense ranks below average (103.0). They are both title-tested (Doc Rivers) and title-deficient (Chris Paul), somehow toeing the line between proven and uncertain contender. They own the NBA’s second-longest winning streak at seven games, yet only one victory came against a playoff team (the woeful Wizards). Their last seven losses all came against potential playoff opponents: Rockets, Mavericks, Warriors, Blazers, Rockets, Grizzlies and Thunder.
So what do we make of L.A.? Before games kicked into gear, I was as high on them as anyone, picking the Clippers to win the title in the preseason. But not everything has gone according to plan (for my Crystal Ball picks or the Clippers). Spencer Hawes has failed to bolster the bench, Blake Griffin isn’t the MVP of his team, much less the league, and L.A. has failed to ascend to the throne of Western Conference frontrunner.
But with only eight games remaining on the schedule, the Clippers have to be pretty happy with where they stand despite the regular-season detour. They’re still in the running for home court advantage in the first round if they can catching the sinking Grizzlies (one game back), Griffin and Paul are both healthy heading into the postseason, and the team’s offense is clicking heading into the home stretch. With Jamal Crawford still recovering from a calf injury, the Clippers' bench issues are glaring—Griffin’s Austin Rivers impression was only funny because it was true—but Doc Rivers has made second-unit production appear out of thin air before.
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The Clippers sneak into the top five this week. Let’s see where all 30 teams stand in this week’s NBA Power Rankings:
(All stats and records through March 29).