If you were on Twitter at all last night, you probably saw at least one LA Clippers’ page reference the Canoes. If not or if you just are confused by the term, let me explain.
The term comes from our friends over at the Clipset Podcast, Brian Cullen and Joseph Raya-Ward (also former Clipperholics contributors!). In short, it’s used to describe the roster the team trots out when both of their stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, are unavailable to play. Typically, a “Canoe Game” also involves other players missing.
Why canoe? A Clipper is a large merchant vessel while a canoe is, well, a tiny boat.
When the Clippers are without their stars, they become a lot less impressive on paper just like a canoe would be in comparison to a clipper. But you know what? Both still float.
The “Canoes” keep proving just how deep this LA Clippers roster really is.
Wednesday night’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies was the perfect Canoe Game. The Clippers were without Leonard, Paul, Rajon Rondo, Serge Ibaka, and Patrick Beverley. In their absence, here’s the starting lineup Ty Lue put out:
On paper, that’s not exactly fear-inducing, is it? The bench didn’t look much better with two players on 10-day contracts (DeMarcus Cousins, Yogi Ferrell), a rookie second-round pick (Daniel Oturu), and two role players (Nicolas Batum, Patrick Patterson) soaking up all the minutes. The team was also coming in on the second night of a back-to-back, having just beaten Portland in a tough game that came down to the last minute.
None of that mattered.
The group found themself down 18 points in the first quarter but absolutely rallied, winning 117-105. They shot 45.2% from the field, which included a blistering 51.9% from deep on 27 attempts.
Luke Kennard impressed the most, scoring a season-high 28 points in which he connected on six of his seven three-pointers. Marcus Morris added in 25 of his own.
In a season with so many ups and downs and every team facing injuries, this is exactly what both the coaching staff and fans love to see. No matter what adversity is thrown at them, the Clippers are coming out and competing. Coach Lue recognized postgame just how invaluable that is, especially as they get ready for the playoffs.
“Our guys have stepped up all year with all of the injuries that we’ve had and it’s just good to see. They are getting the experience they need moving forward so if anything like this happens guys have had a chance to play all season so they will be ready for the playoffs. Our coaching staff is just staying poised, our team staying together not fragmenting, not going crazy in the huddles and just staying together, just trying to weather the storm and continuing to build good habits.”
Those habits will be important and giving the non-superstars their moments and experience will be nothing but beneficial come postseason. Winning a championship is a full team effort and while we know what PG and Kawhi are capable of, having confidence in the rest of the team is extremely important.
This wasn’t the first great Canoe’s game and with the season winding down, probably won’t be the last. Knowing this group can not only compete but win has to be a great feeling for the LA Clippers.