With Leonard off the bench, the Clippers’ first win of the year is a nail-biter

Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

While the season’s first game had a number of flaws, the LA Clippers’ coaching and talent came together, leading to a win. Regardless of the many imperfections, there were bright spots throughout the game. Furthermore, it will likely take this roster time to fully adjust, as the LA Clippers were battling injuries last season.

In addition, hours before the season opener, it was reported that the two-way superstar, Kawhi Leonard, may begin this game off the bench. This was for precautionary purposes, as head coach Tyronn Lue felt he would need Leonard down the stretch. As predicted, this game came down to the wire, and Leonard was in the lineup to close the game.

Moreover, Leonard played exceptionally well, posting 14 points and seven rebounds while shooting 50% from the field. On the other hand, franchise star Paul George had a great game but was constantly in foul trouble. Despite his miscues, George scored 15 points and added ten rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He also led the team in +/- with a +16 in 36 minutes.

After evaluating the team’s performances, the player of the game must go to the LA Clippers’ most reliable starter, Ivica Zubac. Not only was he battling in the paint, but Zubac was also swatting shots at the rim all game long. The seven-foot big man went straight to work as he finished the game with 14 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks, all while shooting 6-6 from the field. Zubac could easily make his way into the All-Star conversation if he can continue to produce at a high volume.

The errors made by the LA Clippers on opening night should be nothing to worry about, as they are all fixable.

With new additions made by the LA Clippers during the off-season, turnovers in the first game are bound to happen. However, it was not just the 21 turnovers that almost cost the Clippers a win. Throughout the game, the LA Clippers missed 11 free throws as a team, shooting 64.5% from the line.

These were the only two issues that came to light. Last season, there were several match-ups where the LA Clippers made similar errors and instantly corrected them. Additionally, Lue was testing out new lineups as the game went on. These mistakes are understandable, as many of these players were getting back into the rhythm of an NBA game.

One player whose contributions were felt all across the board was the two-way point guard John Wall. As he came off the bench in his Clipper debut, Wall did not hesitate in making a play on either end of the floor. The pace he brings is something the franchise has been missing since acquiring Leonard and George in 2019. He proved this by dropping 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists in only 25 minutes.

Next. What could possibly come in the Clippers' way of winning a title. dark

That said, the Clippers lived up to the hype by sealing the win in the battle of LA. This is a great sign for what is yet to come, but Lue and his staff must prepare heavily for their second contest of the year against the Sacramento Kings. The flaws made in game one must be corrected if they are hoping to dominate in any way possible.