What do the LA Clippers need to improve before the playoffs begin?

Paul George, LA Clippers
Paul George, LA Clippers / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the season, the LA Clippers were widely regarded as the best team in the NBA. They were winning games left and right despite having games missed by their superstar forward, Paul George. This was because they were dominating on both ends of the court, and the lineups set by the coaching staff were impeccable.

However, as of late, the lights have turned off, and the Clippers are sitting at rock bottom. Though the two-time champion, Kawhi Leonard, has been relatively healthy all season, George has had his fair share of struggles. Additionally, James Harden, a former league MVP, has been struggling tremendously offensively.

Furthermore, the Clippers are clearly facing adversity within the locker room. This may take some time to overcome, but it is better to deal with it now than during the postseason.

Conversely, the current rotations have been on a slippery slope defensively. Players are not communicating, moving their feet, and rotating when needed. This has been at the top of the Clippers' struggles and must be fixed come playoff time.

The LA Clippers’ defense is starting to become a real problem.

For most of the season, the LA Clippers have been above average on the defensive end. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been on another level, but even players like Russell Westbrook, Amir Coffey, and Norman Powell have made significant improvements. This is what separated the Clippers from the rest of the Western Conference.

In contrast, the Clippers have failed several times to take a stand against shorthanded rosters. They recently lost to the 76ers without Joel Embiid, the Hawks without Trae Young, and the Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Some may say the absence of Russell Westbrook may have played a significant role, but the truth is that the Clippers should have won all three of these games, considering their superstar trio was fully healthy.

Moreover, winning games all starts with health and defense. None of these teams should have outscored the Clippers, especially without their best players. Head coach Tyronn Lue must do a better job setting the proper rotations, and the players need to be active on the perimeter for all 48 minutes.

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That said, the Clippers have ten more games to fight through their struggles. If everything works out, they are the favorites to win the Western Conference. If not, this may be the last season fans see Leonard, George, and Harden on the same team.