The Los Angeles Clippers have put their early season problems behind them and are putting together a nice run of wins, the most recent of them 103-90 over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Clippers started the season with just five wins in their first 13 games, but since then they’ve gone 11-2, as the insertion of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has helped solidify the starting lineup, even if he doesn’t have the offense Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce do. Josh Smith and Doc Rivers have gotten over whatever crisis they had, and the Clippers just seem to be playing the kind of basketball they were expected to play all along.
Going by their last 11 games, whenever they score more than 100 points they win. Their defense is still giving up too many points (100.9 per 100 possessions) but their offense is sixth in the NBA with 104 points per 100 possessions. The Clippers won’t be the championship contenders they dream of before their defense becomes something that’s consistent and trustworthy (or until they stop losing huge leads against the Warriors) but it seems that a humbler approach, or maybe simply the media forgetting about them for the time being, has helped them get back to where they should have been earlier this season.
One player who has been fantastic recently is J.J. Redick, and when Redick scores in bunches, it means the ball movement and offense is working. He finished with 19 points in the win against the Bucks, and is averaging 21.3 points over the last three games. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can get 20-25 points anytime they want, but there’s no need for them to prove their individual brilliance. The Clippers need a more balanced offense, and Reddick is good indication that it’s working.
The other key to what comes next will continue to be the bench. The Clippers keep replacing and retooling that unit over the last few years, only left disappointed in the end. But maybe this time they’ve got it right, and all it needed to set everything straight was a little run of bad basketball and results. There’s still plenty of games left to play this season and like everyone always says, it’s all about what happens in the playoffs. But if their early season losing actually helped bring this team together, no one will remember Smith and Rivers yelling at each other way back in November.