The Los Angeles Clippers have a 6-2 record through the first eight games of this season. Yeah, so it’s still very early in the season, but the Clippers have proven that they are an elite team.
They don’t own the best record in the NBA because right now that honor belongs to the New York Knicks, who have a 5-0 record at the moment. The Clippers actually don’t even have the third best record in the league right now, so this observation has nothing to do with their record, although 6-2 is a pretty impressive start. They are elite because of how they have played and who they have played against.
The Clippers six wins have come against the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trailblazers, Atlanta Hawks, and the Miami Heat. All of those teams are considered by many to be pretty competitive opponents around the league. However, the Clippers two loses came against the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Those teams are considered by many to be at the bottom of the pack around the league, but everyone can use a little wake up call. The Clippers have gone on to win four straight since losing those two games consecutively.
Those six wins for the Clippers have come in surprising fashion, beating teams in so many different ways. They beat the Grizzlies on opening night 101-92, outscoring Memphis 28-15 in the fourth quarter. A couple of days later they beat a drama fulfilled Lakers team 105-95, ending the game with 24 assists as a team to the Lakers 15.
The two loses came and went, which became a serious wake up call for this talented team. They beat the Spurs 106-84, ending the game with seven players scoring in double figures and three of those players finishing with a double-double. On the very next night they beat the Trailblazers 103-90, outscoring the Portland bench 44-21.
The next game was an 89-76 win over the Hawks and it was another win triggered by the Clippers bench, who went on a 15-1 run in the fourth quarter to give their starters a nice cushion to finish the job. Many said last night would be the biggest test for the Clippers and they certainly passed it. They beat the Heat 107-100, led by an early sixth man of year candidate Jamal Crawford, who scored a team high 22 points off of the bench.
This team is highlighted by stars like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, but it’s Crawford who leads the team in scoring so far this season, averaging 20.5 points per game.
So that’s how the Clippers have proven early on that they are an elite team. They can beat you down with their unselfish play, bench production, and ability to close out games in the fourth quarter. That ability to close out games actually comes from the depth of their bench, forcing teams to leave their starters in for longer periods of time to match the intensity of the Clippers second unit.
Last night’s win wasn’t just another win for the Clippers. That win definitely had a statement behind it, which was sent out to the entire league by the Clippers, stating that this 2012-2013 Clippers team is for real, so watch out.
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