Clippers Are Slumping: Should Their Fans Worry?
November 9, 2017
For the last five years the Clippers have won at least 50 games and made the playoffs.
Now Chris Paul has left them and after winning their first four games they’ve lost four of five.
Ordinarily I’d start this column by saying don’t worry. They still have Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and they’ve added Patrick Beverly.
But some major changes are being made throughout the NBA these days and I think Clipper fans should be concerned.
The Clippers’ 120-107 loss at San Antonio Tuesday night alarmed the players so much they held a meeting after the game talking about their ineffective lack of defense.
At the start of the season I listed my thoughts on who’d represent the Western Conference in the playoffs. It was easy to begin with Golden State, San Antonio and Houston. I moved Oklahoma City into the top four because the Thunder had traded for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to help Russell Westbrook.
I had to put Utah next based on their strong performance last season. Now we were down to sixth, seventh and eighth where the Clippers and Memphis were likely to qualify.
But since then things changed enough for me to speak out last week in a session with other Clipper writers.
I said it’s become possible that the Clippers won’t make not make the playoffs this season.
The team on my mind is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have improved so much they now seem likely to finish in the top five.
They already had a terrific center, Karl Anthony Towns and a major star in forward Anthony Wiggins. But in an offseason trade with Chicago they brought in Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. They also acquired an established point guard, Jeff Teague and a superb reserve guard, ex-Clipper Jamal Crawford.
Guard Austin Rivers says the Clippers should be an outstanding defensive team. In the first few games they did look good.
But the competition is strong and it remains to be seen how much Paul’s absence will hurt them.
I admire Steve Ballmer for being an owner who does what’s necessary to keep the team strong. But it looks to me this season is going to be a major challenge for him.