Clippers: 3 players who need to step up if Leonard, Zubac can’t go

Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Clippers, DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Clippers aren’t healthy.

It’s not much of a surprise, as they haven’t been healthy for seemingly all season.

Not only have they now missed Kawhi Leonard for seven straight playoff games, but they just had to play Game 5 without Ivica Zubac.

Ivica Zubac’s sprained MCL has him listed as a “game time decision” for the Clips by CBS Sports, and they also have Leonard listed under that same status. The Clips ended up taking Game 5 to bring the series back to LA down 3-2, but need three guys in particular to step up in Game 6 if they want to sure up this victory.

No. 1 player who needs to step up if Leonard, Zubac can’t go: DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins did step up for the LA Clippers without Leonard and Zubac in the picture.

He only played 11 minutes, but that’s expected as an older player. He probably would’ve played more if the game was more competitive. The Clippers won 116-102.

In his 11 minutes that he got his chance, however, he scored 15 points on 7 of 12 shooting. That’s a playoff career high for Cousins.

He still draws double teams, which is huge for a team like the Clippers who are as good as it gets from beyond the arc. Cousins has always been good at kicking the ball out to perimeter shooters, and when he draw double teams, he creates those types of opportunities.

Sure enough, he was tied for second on the team in assists with three in Game 5. Again, he did that while only playing 11 minutes.

There is an aspect of the game Cousins could have been better with, and will need to be for the Clippers to solidify a win in Game 6, and that’s his rebounding.

He only had two rebounds in Game 5, and that’s not going to cut it with now the top two centers on this team out.

Serge Ibaka and Zubac were the top two Clipper leaders in rebounds per game, and they averaged a combined 13.9 per game.

The Clippers may have taken Game 5, but winning consistent postseason games without the top two rebounders on any team can be brutally tough. Cousins can do this, however, and if he does, the Clippers will be very hard to beat in Game 6.