Los Angeles Clippers: Post All-Star break predictions

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

How will the Los Angeles Clippers handle the second half of the season?

Here we are, the second half of the NBA season has arrived for the Los Angeles Clippers.

The team seems to have settled in after the blockbuster deal that saw Blake Griffin get traded, Lou Williams got some more years of dough, and good ol’ Deandre Jordan can sleep easy knowing he’s still in LA.

But what will the final 25 games of the regular season have in store for the Rivers regiment? 

Is a playoff push possible in the wicked Western Conference? Can I continue creating content with connecting and congruent alliteration? It’s time to once again gaze into the magic mirror and determine where the bar should be for the LA Clippers, and whether or not they can avoid running into it.

 Let’s begin with a brief recap of how the first half ended. The Clippers went into the All Star break on a streak as hot anyone. After the Griffin trade, they won 5 of 7 games centered around several great performances by Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and of course DJ eating up the glass.

But, ahem, and I mean this in the nicest way possible to these other teams, should we even count games played against Chicago, Dallas, or Brooklyn? I will admit, beating Detroit and Boston on the road is admirable, but the Dollar Dame Lillard along with the oh so trustworthy process both handed them L’s.

Just take a step back, get some deep yoga breaths going, and admit the streak leading to the All-Star break doesn’t mean as much as most give it credit for. Now all that being said, everyone is tired going into the break and they should be some recognition for not quitting or running on fumes for those final games.

Which brings me to the real meat of the story and frankly why most of you clicked on this page. What in the name of Steve Ballmer is gonna happen with the Clippers the rest of the season? Well, I hope everyone has their printable schedule in hand because here we go…

Tobias Harris made it to the 2nd round of the 3 Point Contest; that has to mean something, right?

Ok ok I hear you. “Why do you have to be a hater?” We have a solid lineup and are in the hunt. So let me show you my predictions of how things are gonna shake out.

@ Golden StateLoss@ MinnesotaLoss
@ PhoenixWin@ MilwaukeeLoss
@ DenverLoss@ IndianaLoss
HoustonLoss@ TorontoLoss
New York KnicksWinMilwaukeeLoss
BrooklynWin@ PhoenixWin
New OrleansWin@ PortlandLoss
OrlandoWinSan AntonioLoss
@ ChicagoWin@ UtahLoss
@ HoustonLossDenverLoss
@ Oklahoma CityLossNew OrleansWin
PortlandLossLos Angeles LakersWin


For those keeping score, that’s 9-17 meaning the Clippers would end the regular season with a 39-43 record. But of course I have to go in detail and explain myself for most of these so let’s get it on!

A 6 day, 3 game road trip will probably see the Clippers to a 1-2 record. Of course last night the Golden State game was decided so I’m already starting off one for one, batting a thousand, unblemished.

Even though it ends as a loss, it was a positive sign that the Clippers were able to keep it close after going down double digits. But a loss is a loss and the Warriors recovered from their pre-break stumble. Now we get to the actual predictions.

 The Phoenix Suns will offer little to no resistance in what will more than likely be a win for LA. But then the Nuggets, who have a tough schedule of their own to overcome, will play hard and get the victory.

Then begins the best part of the final stretch, as the Clippers have a six game home stand where they can notch victories over the Kristaps-less Knickerbockers, 2018 Skills Challenge Champion Spencer Dinwiddie and his Nets, the Pelicans with Boogie Cousins screaming from the bench, and Orlando, who magically makes wins disappear.

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It’s safe to bet CP3 and the Rockets will bring too much offense for the Clippers to handle and that King James will be commencing his annual shift into overdrive alongside the new-look Cavaliers. Things look ok at this point, with the Clippers still boasting an above .500 record at 35-30. Maybe even add a win on if the Rockets decide to settle things off the court again.

But so begins the Wipeout course that is the rest of the Clippers’ schedule. More than likely a 1-2 road stretch where they can top the bottom dwelling Bulls only to have H-Town and OKC begin the descent into below .500 airspace.

LA will host the Blazers at home which will more than likely end with Portland notching the W on a buzzer beater 3 from Lillard.

I then foresee a winless cross country swing for the Clippers. The Timberwolves, now that the Spurs’ seeding is vulnerable with Kawhi Leonard out for the season, are gonna make every game matter.

Giannis Antetokounmpo will do his thing, putting up big numbers and maybe even a poster, which means a sad trip out of Wisconsin. In Indiana, the Pacers have done everything I didn’t expect them to do all season so I’m just gonna go with the opposite of my preseason predictions.

Lastly, the Raptors’ passing and Demar Derozan’s midrange mastery will be ahead enough to allow Drake to come in off the bench with 1:43 left in the game.

The Clippers get to spend most of the games after that road trip in Staples Center, hosting 6 of their last 9. Too bad some of those invited to play are Milwaukee, Indiana, San Antonio, and Denver, all of which will be in the playoff picture and will not go down easily, if at all.

A trip to Phoenix will let off some of the losing steam, but then things will immediately regress up in Portland where CJ McCollum will star this go around. The final away game of the season will be anything but smooth taking on the Jazz, as Donovan Mitchell can show off his dunks in his own building this time.

 But it isn’t all that bad. The Pelicans won’t have enough depth for the Clippers late in the season and the Lakers will be far enough out of the playoff picture to not care about anything except what Lebron and Paul George are doing.

 39-43 isn’t a disrespectful record for the Clippers, especially without Chris Paul and trading away Blake Griffin. But compared to the rest of the West I don’t think it will be enough.

First of all there are really only 3 spots in the Western Conference playoffs really up for grabs because Golden State, Houston, Minnesota, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City are pretty much locks. And looking at the remaining schedules, it seems the Jazz, the Trail Blazers, and the Nuggets are set to fill out the 6, 7, and 8 seeds.

The Jazz are rolling and have a fairly easy end to the season with 10 of their final 24 being against teams yet to win 20 games. The Trailblazers never really seem to go away as long as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are in the lineup. And Denver should have just enough to get into the 8th spot.

Now, if the Clippers can get some momentum going and steal a handful of games, and if the Nuggets have as tough a time on their road stretch as I think they will and are unable to recover, the playoffs are definitely an option for LA.

More than likely that would match them up with either the Warriors and Rockets, which I think even my cat knows will end with the Clippers going home in 4. But playoffs brings in money and the Clippers do have cap space now that Griffin is gone and if they somehow get DeAndre Jordan off the books.

Maybe a free agent sees the Clippers are able to have success with just their foundation players which makes the red, white, and blue more attractive of a destination. Maybe injuries occur and the Clippers are able to advance a round or two.

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Or maybe, just maybe, Jerry West begins his magic like he did in Golden State and starts building another great team. No matter how the season ends, let’s all just be happy games are about to start mattering.