The LA Clippers are a very good basketball team. That’s not saying anything you don’t already know, but sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves: we’re cheering for a serious championship contender.
Outside of the most negative parts of Clippers Twitter, most LA Clippers fans feel better about our chances this year than last. Part of that is roster related; there are more guys on the team that I trust in the playoffs now, and that’s meaningful.
But also, the results are coming through better, for the most part. The LA Clippers are doing what they’re supposed to do and winning the games they’re supposed to win, more often than last year.
The LA Clippers’ performance against the teams they’re supposed to beat is encouraging compared to last year.
Of course, the LA Clippers will have their fate decided by how they play against the best teams in the league, and we’ve already started looking at advantages they can leverage early in the playoffs, as well as players they can expose against the best Western Conference teams.
But it’s important, too, to see how they play against the lesser teams. A big criticism of the team (which was sometimes taken quite a bit too far by the media) was that they played cocky. They acted like a team that was just penciled in to the finals, and all too often a bad team would take advantage of that.
Last year, when the LA Clippers faced off against a team who was under 0.500, they went 29-11, per ESPN. That’s a 72.5% win percentage – pretty good, but not quite what I would hope for. That winning percentage means, if last year’s Clippers played a full 82 game season against just sub-.500 teams, they’d win 59 games.
For a team that had championship aspirations, I’d hope for a better pace than that. This year, the LA Clippers have played 29 games against sub-.500 teams and gone 23-6, for a 79.3% winning percentage. Again, extrapolating that win percentage to an 82 game season against losing teams, this year’s Clips would go 65-13.
Going from losing a bit more than once every 4 times they met a losing team last year, to losing just more than once every 5 times this year is a solid jump. It’s easy to point at some glaring losses (the Orlando loss led to some very angry fans on social media, for example), but in general, the LA Clippers are taking care of business in games they should win.
On top of that, many of those “terrible” losses against bad teams this season have come with one or both of our stars missing. When Kawhi Leonard and Paul George play, the LA Clippers play like the contenders we know they are.