The Los Angeles Clippers were unquestionably one of the top teams in the NBA during the first half of the season, but they appear to have reverted to a team with a ton of weaknesses that are beginning to show. With the Clippers playing so inconsistently of late, the question is, what’s the problem in Los Angeles?
Even though the Clippers started off 32-9 and had the league’s best record through 41 games, they were always flawed. The Clippers had age and injuries concerned in key areas of their rotation, specifically at the guard and small forward positions with Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler. While Los Angeles does have a ton of depth, the talent level drops off when the reserves are asked to play heavy minutes and they aren’t quite capable of contributed at the same level as the starters.
The Clippers are also wildly inconsistent defensively. Sometimes they play an aggressive style of defense that forces their opponent to turn the basketball over at a high rate, while lately they have appeared lackadaisical contesting shots, rotating to the open man or simply staying in front of their assignments. Many of these habits were evident in the Clippers 98-81 loss to the Houston Rockets Saturday evening.
Finally, the Clippers don’t have a head coach that is capable of motivating them to push through the dog days of the NBA season leading up to the playoffs. Vinny Del Negro has taken the Clippers as far as he can, but they will need an upgrade on the sideline if they plan to truly contend for the Western Conference crown.
The Clippers are indeed one of the most exciting teams in the NBA, but that excitement won’t be enough to get them over the hump in the playoffs. The Clippers will need more substance and a few more tweaks before they can truly be called an elite team.