The LA Clippers have found a rich run of form in the last fortnight.
Tyronn Lue’s reign in Los Angeles has started on a strong note, with his side’s 12-4 record rivalling only the NBA Champion Lakers for the best mark in the Association.
The Clippers’ eye-catching start has been characterised by their red-hot start to 2021, where they have only dropped three games before notching six sequential performances without a defeat, dating back to a disappointing loss against the Golden State Warriors over two weeks ago.
The Clippers’ victorious displays have been affirmed by three key principles that have allowed the side to develop a newfound – ahem – swagger that was so vitally missed during the escapades of Kawhi Leonard’s first season in Southern California.
LA Clippers key #1: A reinvigorated Paul Geofdsarge
Tyronn Lue is making the game easier for Paul George this season. And it’s worked wonders.
After extending the All-NBA talent’s contract for a further four-years, $190 million, Lue has crafted decisive lineup adjustments that have catered for the strength’s of his secondary star.
Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum’s introduction to the starting lineup has embodied a shift towards the principles of a contemporary NBA offence: sacrificing size for spacing and flexibility. In this unit, George has enjoyed a spacious halfcourt to punish defenders as either a scorer or a playmaker.
George is shooting 51.5 percent from the field while completing exactly half of his opportunities from beyond the arc for 24.7 points per game in fifteen outings, all sizeable upticks from his lone season under Doc Rivers. Placing George in an environment to shine – especially after a demoralising introduction to the Clippers community – has been the catalyst for his return to the top echelon of the league’s elite scorers.
Another crucial aspect to the six-time All-Star’s rejuvenation under Lue has been his production in a playmaking capacity. George has been distributing a career-high 5.5 assists per game in this role, providing an alternate element for his offensive game.
The presence of Nicolas Batum has also eased the defensive burden for George to allow for his continued distinction on the offensive end. Batum has regularly been given the top defensive assignment through fifteen games, which has allowed George to rest against opponents who rarely have the ball in their hands. This underrated aspect of Batum’s game will prove especially vital in the postseason, where the Clippers will be increasingly dependent on George’s performances to register victories against star-laden opposition.