Clippers Can’t Excuse Catastrophic Collapses and Detrimental Defense


68 games into the season, the Los Angeles Clippers are 35-33— a record identical to this time last year.

Despite having more star power and a deeper roster, the Clips are in the same spot.

They have some very real problems, some exaggerated by fans. Regardless, something needs to change before the playoffs.

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Is Ty Lue a bad coach? No. Has he made some questionable decisions this season? Yes.

To pin all the blame on one person would be unfair, but there are many things that have left Clippers fans scratching their heads. The most infuriating of them all is how the Clippers close games.

More accurately, how they fail to close them.

Three of the most egregious end-of-game performances from the Clips come against the Magic, 76ers,and the Kings.

In a December 7th game against the Magic, the Clippers had a big early lead. They let the Magic creep back into the game, and subbing Paul George and Kawhi Leonard late was not enough to stop the bleeding. The bout ended up as an overtime loss for the Clippers.

The most frustrating part was PG and Kawhi were kept off the floor in overtime due to a minutes restriction.

The next poor finish came against the 76ers on December 23rd. The Clips were up 108-107 late in this game. After a timeout, however, the 76ers went on a 10-0 run to close it out.

On February 25th, the Kings closed a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime and a six-point deficit to send it to double overtime. The Clippers yet again had another six-point lead in double OT with 1:57 left in the game. The Clippers scored a whopping zero points in the final 1:57 en route to a heartbreaking loss.

To cap things off, PG was also removed early from this game, again due to a minutes restriction. Two games that are months apart and minutes restrictions are still affecting who’s on the court to close games.

The Clippers were recently embarrassed by a Curry-less Warriors team. Once again, the Clippers were up — this time by 11 at halftime — only to suffer another blown lead resulting in a loss. This blown lead stung more than normal because it led to the Warriors leapfrogging the Clippers in the standings.

The Clippers aren’t blowing these leads for no reason. Their late-game offense has been questionable at best. The Clips have the luxury of having one of the best closers in the league in Kawhi.

So it is inexcusable when Kawhi doesn’t shoot the ball for almost the last six minutes of a game.


The Clips are supposed to be a team whose identity is predicated on defense. This is the first year — with a healthy Kawhi and PG — that the Clippers’ defensive rating has been outside the top five. They are 15th in said category right now, and considering their recent play, it’s shocking they aren’t worse.

Being one of the worst defensive teams in the entire NBA as of recent is not conducive to being a playoff team, let alone a contender.

The Clips have a roster full of capable defenders that should be performing much better than they are. They don’t have to deal with problems other teams face such as hiding their poor-defending superstars. The two biggest problems with the Clippers’ defense is effort and continuity.

The Clippers’ defensive effort has been lackluster. Even if a defender is locked in and properly contains the initial action, someone else gets caught sleeping.

It’s not like Slow Mo is using his blistering speed to burn past Kawhi here.

There is no secret to avoiding this on defense— it’s just effort, and the Clips simply are not locked in. These plays happen much more often than they should for a team with the Clippers’ aspirations.

Every game, there are multiple occasions where the other team hits a wide-open three or layup resulting in all five Clippers players scratching their heads and looking around.

The players just don’t have enough reps together. Chemistry and communication are arguably some of the biggest reasons for an elite defense.

Great defenses like the Celtics work as one cohesive unit. If someone gets beat off the dribble, help arrives in the paint and another player is sprinting to the open shooter. Their defenders all rotate to help the initial helper and others cover potential passing lanes.

These are all things the Clippers have to personnel to do, but lack the chemistry and reps with each other.


The Clippers have allowed the sixth-most points off turnovers this season. Being worse at something than the Pistons is not ideal.

It’s not surprising for a team that lacks point-guard play to be high in turnovers. The frustrating part, however, is the type of turnovers.

If turnovers that make you say “Am I watching a JV game?” was a real stat the Clippers would rank first.

Not all turnovers are created equal. Getting stripped by Jrue Holiday is not going to affect team morale as much as a careless pass sailing into the 12th row.

With the addition of Russell Westbrook and Kawhi being healthy, life is much easier for PG and hopefully his turnovers will reflect that. While Westbrook brings his own turnover problems the team is averaging just 15.5 turnovers a game since acquiring Westbrook.

Much like their defensive issues, the lack of chemistry is also apparent on the offensive end. The turnovers should come down with time, but to believe more reps will solve an issue this big would be naïve.

The Clips recent win against an undermanned Grizzlies team provides a silver lining. While they shouldn’t have been in that close of a game to begin with, they won. More importantly they had an impressive comeback that showed more heart and determination than they’ve shown all year.

About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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