Takeaways from the Clippers' 124-97 win over the Memphis Grizzlies
It was never an issue of not caring. At least not in Doc Rivers' mind.
"I don't think we're a flip the switch team," Rivers told reporters before Monday night's game. "Those are teams that have been healthy all year and chosen not to play. When you're out of sorts with different lineups, that's different."
The Clippers proved Rivers right Monday night with a dominant 124-97 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, avenging one of its most embarrassing losses of the season. As usual, Kawhi Leonard was terrific — the two-way star went for 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in less than 25 minutes of play and threw down some contest-worthy dunks in the first quarter.
Leonard's performance isn't the whole story, though. The team had one of its best all-around performances of the season against Memphis, and that came down to the efforts of the other 12 players that appeared in tonight's game as well.
Let's get into tonight's takeaways.
First look at the 10-man rotation
The L.A. Clippers had a full roster available for Monday's contest against the Grizzlies, which has only happened four other times this season. It was the first such occasion since the trade deadline, which in turn gave us our first look at the team's 10-man rotation.
The starters are who we expected: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Leonard, Marcus Morris and Ivica Zubac. That's probably how things should look for the rest of the season, too.
The second unit is as follows: Reggie Jackson, Lou Williams, Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green and Montrezl Harrell.
It's tough to take too much away from one game, but Clippers fans should feel optimistic about this 10-man group. The starting unit is packed with two-way players that stand out on both sides of the ball, while the bench is built to extend or sustain leads with a lineup full of efficient scorers and floor-spacers.
With the acquisitions of Jackson and Morris, it appears that Rodney McGruder and Patrick Patterson will be bumped out of the rotation, and that's probably where they belong. The Clippers won't accomplish much with each of them eating up 10-15 minutes a night, but both are solid insurance guys that have proven to be capable of playing in a larger role when necessary.
The Clippers might still want to add some size with the final roster spot, but there's a lot to like about this particular group.
Clippers lock-in against a lesser team
L.A. has struggled against sub-.500 teams this season, and some of its most lopsided losses have come against teams you might not have expected.
In addition to the Clippers' 140-114 loss to the Grizzlies in January, the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans have also gotten the best of them.
Fortunately, L.A. showed up against Memphis on Monday in a major way.
The Clippers got off to an excellent start against the Grizzlies, allowing just four points in the first seven and a half minutes and 14 total in the first quarter. During that same period, L.A. got red-hot and poured in 40 on 64.0 percent shooting.
L.A. led by as many as 35 points in the first half and 37 in the second, never allowing Memphis to get within striking distance.
Winning these types of games ultimately doesn't do much to strengthen the Clippers' case as title contenders, but every win counts for something, and L.A. will want to secure homecourt advantage in the postseason.
The best is yet to come
If the L.A. Clippers continue to play winning basketball against non-playoff teams, then a top-four seed is theirs to lose.
According to Tankathon, the Clippers have the 19th-hardest remaining schedule in the NBA and the 3rd-easiest among Western Conference playoff teams. Notable "easy" games include matchups with the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons.
The Clippers will need to play with the same kind of urgency that was on display tonight to win those games comfortably — but when this team is healthy, that hasn't been an issue.
L.A. will get Tuesday off before traveling to Phoenix for a meeting with the Suns at 6:00 p.m. PT.