The Los Angeles Clippers are in a funk. They entered the week at 40-26, just one game behind the Utah Jazz for fourth place in the Western Conference. But after Thursday night they’re now 40-29, and suddenly the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies are breathing down their neck for fifth place in the West.
Thursday night in Denver, the team was without both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who were resting, and the Nuggets took advantage, cruising to a 129-114 victory over the shorthanded Clips. It was LA’s third straight loss this week, and they’re now just 5-8 since the All-Star break.
It was one thing when the team was struggling during the absences of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, but they’re healthy now, and still can’t figure out a way to win games. Following Thursday night’s loss, J.J. Redick spoke to the media about the tough stretch, saying the team is “in a bad place right now.”
JJ Redick on state of Clippers: "I don’t know what to expect from this team anymore. It’s just – we’re in a bad place right now."— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) March 17, 2017
While that’s obvious to anyone who’s seen them play recently, the more interesting part of the quote is at the beginning, where he notes he’s not sure what to expect from them anymore. For years now, we’ve known exactly what to expect from this Clippers group. Chris Paul runs the show, Blake Griffin puts up double-doubles, DeAndre Jordan catches lobs, J.J. Redick runs around screens, and more often than not, the Clippers win.
Their identity for years now has been a highly entertaining regular-season team whose season often ends after a shorter playoff run than expected. With the same core players still in town, it’s interesting to hear Redick express doubt about their identity after so many years together.
Perhaps the constant injuries and inability to meet expectations, coupled with the looming free agencies of both Paul and Griffin this summer, has started to put cracks in what has been a rock-solid foundation for so long.