By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

4/14/21 (16-38) Detroit Pistons vs (38-18) Los Angeles Clippers

These teams would meet each other for the second time in three days. The Clippers would win the initial match up after going on a 24-10 between the 3rd and 4th quarter to take a commanding lead in the game. The Clippers tallied a season-high 35 assists in that game and Ivica Zubac would also record a career-high seven assists while finishing with his 11th double-double of the season.

Not only did they enjoy a sixth-game win streak, which was the longest active win streak in the NBA. They extended a franchise record of 10 consecutive seasons with an above .500 record in their previous win over the Pistons. Though the Clippers would be playing without multiple starters in this game, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in this match-up, in addition to Serge Ibaka, Patrick Beverley, and Marcus Morris.

Head Coach Ty Lue would turn to former Pistons Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard to lead the charge for the Clippers. They each responded with 29 points and 6 rebounds and 17 points and 10 rebounds respectively. Ivica Zubac would also play a big role in this game by scoring 18 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.

In a game where they tallied their least amount of assist in a game this season while hitting their second least amount three-pointers made thus far this season. Though the undermanned Clippers would need a last-second bucket from Reggie Jackson to pull this game out over the game Pistons who were led by Jerami Grant’s 28 points that night. Head Coach Ty Lue would say post-game about this win, “I was happy for the young guys to come through because all of them made big plays! Luke made a couple of free throws, Reggie made the three and the pull up to win the game, T (Terance) Mann the quick 2 and the steal. Amir the deflection and the steal all those guys contributed; Zu with the put-back, it was a total team win.”

4/16/21 (14-37) Philadelphia 76ers vs (39-18) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers came into this game on a seven-game win streak having already beat future Western Conference playoffs teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, and Phoenix Suns in this stretch of games. They have also scored over 120 points in four of those previous seven games. Paul George has also been on a scoring tear, by scoring at least 30 points in four straight games.

Before the game, the Clippers would announce that they have signed center DeMarcus Cousins to a second 10-day contract and they would have the services of Paul George and Marcus Morris in this game. Yet they would again be without the services of Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, and Serge Ibaka against the 76ers.

Los Angeles would find themselves in a hole early as Philadelphia would jump out to an early 20-3 lead, which also led to the Clippers 12 point deficit at the half 59-47. Paul George heated up in that third quarter as he dropped 15 points on the 76ers. Early in this game, Paul George eclipsed 14,000 career points and became one of 16 active NBA players with 14,000 points. Paul George would finish the game with 37 points, this would also be his fifth game with more than 30 points, which is tied for the longest such streak in his career.

That hot streak by George brought the Clippers to within four points of the 76ers, as they would start the fourth quarter 81-77. The Clippers would take a brief lead at 91-90 and again at 94-92 on a jumper from Marcus Morris Sr., who chipped in 15 points on the night.

Patrick Patterson, who scored a season-high 18 points and hit 5 three-pointers would say post-game about guarding Embiid, “He’s such a dominant force down low.” The Clippers had their hands full guarding Joel Embiid as he would go 16-18 from the free-throw line and finish the game with 36 points and 14 rebounds.

Though the Clippers would fight back to make a game on this one, their season-high 19 turnovers would be their undoing in the close of this game. This allowed the Sixers to escape with a win as well as tying up the season series. Clippers Head Coach Ty Lue would say post-game, “Overall, I thought our guys competed. Joel Embiid is a handful, I thought we did a good job mixing it up on him, even though he had 36 points… Hat’s off to them they played well.”

4/18/21 (15-42) Minnesota Timberwolves vs (39-19) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers look to rebound against the Minnesota Timberwolves after their 7 game streak was snapped by the 76ers. For the first time this season, the Clippers would play in front of roughly 2000 select fans at the Staples Center.

Everyone in attendance at the Staples Center would need to have fully vaccinated for at least two weeks before attending an event there, or have a negative COVID19 test within 72 hours of entering the building. For further protection the Staples Center has become a cash-free venue, only allowing credit and debit card purchases. They have also provided designated eating and drinking areas for those in the arena.

Over the past ten games, the Clippers have gone 7-3. Their opponents have averaged 106.1 points on 45.2% shooting. They are averaging 25.1 assists, 43.9 rebounds, 6.7 steal, and 112.6 points on 48.8% shooting. They would again be without Patrick Beverley- Left Hand Fourth Metacarpal Fracture, Serge Ibaka- Lower Back Tightness.

The Timberwolves have gone 4-6, in their last ten match-ups. They have allowed their opponents to shoot 49.7% while scoring 122 points per game. All the while averaging 5.2 blocks, 9.4 steals, 24 assists, and 41.7 rebounds per game. They are shooting 44.7% from the field and scoring 115.4 points per game.

The Clippers made 14 three-pointers in the first half while shooting 58.3% from behind the arc. Which tied their season-high for three-pointers made in a half. This allowed them to take a 19 point lead into the locker room, and the dominance only grew from there.

They followed up a 43-point 2nd quarter with a 36-point 3rd quarter. Combine that with only allowing the Timberwolves to score 16 points in the 3rd quarter, this game was out of reach and Ty Lue proceeded to empty his bench. Which has also led to the 10th-straight season that the Clippers have had at least 40 wins which is the longest active streak in the NBA.

A few of the major accomplishments this game was the Clippers going over 120 points for the 24th time this season giving them a record of 23-1 when scoring that many points. Kawhi Leonard now has 64 consecutive games scoring 15 points or more. Additionally, this is the third time this season and seventh time in

franchise history that the Clippers have made at least 20 three-pointers. They made a season-high 21 three-pointer tonight.

Post-game I had a chance to ask Clippers Head Coach Ty Lue about that how he’s gotten his to play so unselfishly this season and he responded by saying, “it’s the same thing we’ve been harping on all season; just making your teammate better, give up a good shot to get a great shot, moving the basketball. These guys are truly and clearly bought in, it starts with PG (Paul George) and Kawhi (Leonard), the job they’ve done being scorers and being able to score one on one or anytime they want. But also making their teammate better, that’s what taking us to the next level right now.”

4/20/21 (40-19) Los Angeles Clippers vs (32-24) Portland Trailblazers

The Clippers would travel to Portland for the first half of back-to-back games, they will welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to Staples on Wednesday evening. They would be without Patrick Beverley- Left Hand Fourth Metacarpal Fracture, Serge Ibaka- Lower Back Tightness as well as Kawhi Leonard who would be missing his fifth of the previous six games nursing a sore foot.

Although the Clippers would beat the Trailblazers by an average of 20 points in their previous two matchups. The Trailblazers would also be without the services of their All-Star point guard Damian Lillard in this game. For only the fifth time this season Lillard would be unavailable, it was his third consecutive game he would miss.

With Lillard’s 28.7 points per game average combined with 7.7 assists on the bench, the Trailblazers would turn to CJ McCollum to lead them against the Clippers. CJ would not disappoint, as he scored 28 points pulled down 5 rebounds, and handed out 5 assists. However, he and Norman Powell would not be enough to overcome the upset-minded Clippers, with Paul George leading the charge.

Paul George has been on a recent scoring barrage and the Trailblazer was just the most recent team to feel his wrath. Including this win vs the Trailblazers, George would score 32 or more points on six of his last seven games, his final two points came on a game-tying and then go-ahead free throw with under 5 seconds on the clock.

George and his teammates would do their best to fill in the void that they have with the 4-time All-NBA player, 2-time Finals Champion Kawhi Leonard is out. Marcus Morris Sr. chipped in 16 points and 6 rebounds, newly acquired DeMarcus Cousins would add 11 points and 6 rebounds, and while Ivica Zubac would also put up 10 points and 6 rebounds to help the Clippers win the battle of the boards.

Paul George has been playing through a toe issue of his own. Yet his leadership this season has led his friend and new teammate Demarcus Cousins to say during his post-game media availability, “PG’s cool as a fan… he leads by example. He comes in and works every single day. Every night he steps on the floor you’re going to get an A+ effort. He is one of the talented most players I’ve seen lace ‘em up… We got to stop the PG slander!” In his post-game media availability, Paul George would say about this win, “It was a win that we went and got. Portland had the game and we were able to continue to keep fighting and take the game from them… we played great down the stretch, we weren’t great for the whole 48 (minutes). But, I thought when we needed to be great, we were great.”

In the last ten games, the Clippers are now 9-1, with 12 games to play in the season. They have a defensive rating of 11 of the league’s 30 teams while maintaining the second-best offensive rating in the league. All of the credit should be given to coach Ty Lue for bringing a sense of calm and poise to this team, which has made them a favorite to win the Western Conference provided their health doesn’t become an issue in the playoffs!

Kindly share your thoughts on what this team’s ceiling is, provided they remain fairly throughout the playoffs. I look forward to hearing from you and feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or forward any suggestions on what additional topics or angles you’d like to see discussed to info@whatsgoodinsports.com.

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