On Monday, I was hanging with a friend that I split my Clippers season tickets with and we had a discussion on the importance of the upcoming four game road trip the Clippers were about to start that night. I thought they would lose the first game and then go on to win the next three because the Clippers just don’t seem to win in San Antonio. My friend agreed that the Clippers would lose Monday’s game and might lose in Brooklyn. We both usually have a high prediction percentage but that’s why they play the games. The Clippers went 1-3 only winning in San Antonio and looked awful for 2.5 games. This was the first road trip of the season and was a brutal schedule playing all four games against quality playoff opponents.
Game 1 (San Antonio)- The Clippers looked like true title contenders beating San Antonio for the 2nd time of the year and starting off the road trip with a win. Chris Paul made a clutch basket at the end of the game and the bench was solid. Jamal Crawford struggled from the field but Matt Barnes picked up the slack.
Game 2 (Oklahoma City)- The Clippers have matched up great with the Thunder. They beat the Western Conference champs 3 out of 4 times last year. The Clippers were on a six game winning streak but didn’t have their best effort verse the Thunder. Chris Paul was uncharacteristic with 4 turnovers and going 2-14 from the field and Jamal Crawford struggled for the 2nd consecutive game from the field. They still managed to force overtime in a game they had no business winning with a great 4th quarter charge led by Blake Griffin.
Game 3 (Brooklyn)- The Clippers had their first trip to the new Barclays center and looked great in the first half especially on the defensive side of the ball. Then the 2nd half happened. They couldn’t buy a basket and only managed 29 points in the entire 2nd half. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford again had less than stellar performances with Paul fouling out. Paul and Crawford combined to shoot 10-24 and the rest of the bench scored 11 points combined.
Game 4 (Atlanta)- The easiest game on paper but the 2nd of a back to back and the last game of a road trip and boy did it show. The Clippers seemed lethargic from the start and really weren’t in the game by halftime. Again Paul and Crawford didn’t have their best night.
The good news, the Clippers will have 6 of their next 7 games at home but reality hit hard. The Clippers clear advantage over any team in the league is their depth and the fact they have the best point guard in the league. The Clippers go as Chris Paul goes and benches are known to show up only at home. Road games will be the true test to how serious of a title threat the Clippers can be. The Clippers are better than they looked the past week but Chris Paul said it the best.
It’s a terrible road trip for us, especially with all of them being winnable games. I think what we’ve learned from it is that it’s not as easy as it looks. That’s where you build your identity at — on the road.
The Clippers had a chance to extend an early division lead on the Lakers and the rest of the Pacific Division but now return to Los Angeles with only a half-game lead over the Warriors.
This might have been a four game road trip in November but on paper it was the toughest stretch of the season and similar to playoff conditions. Benches will be shorter come April, May & potentially June so the Clippers depth wont be as much as an advantage. Crawford needs some scoring help off the bench in case he comes back to earth where shooters don’t shoot over 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the charity stripe. The return of Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups will help spread the floor more for Crawford to continue his sixth man of the year pursuit.
There are no moral victories in the association but the Clippers even with their “C” effort managed to hang with some of the league’s best. The Clippers should go back to their winning ways with the conference worst Hornets come to Staples Center tonight.