By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
Having already secured the eighth seed in the NBA’s Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers came into the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to finish the season with a winning record while enhancing their all-important chemistry heading into these playoffs. The newly acquired Norman Powell and Robert Covington have played one single game with Paul George, who missed 51 games this season of his own.
The Los Angeles Clippers also came into the game looking to keep their three-game win streak alive, as the Kings marched into Crypto.com Arena for the final time this season. Oddly would be George’s only 30th game of the season, yet he has been leading this team upon his return by averaging 24.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.2 steals over their past ten games.
“I think overall I’ve been trying to take each possession for what it is. You know, just try to make the best play possible and just be trusting the ball to make the right plays,” Paul George says after registering his career-high 12 assists vs. the Kings. “I love settling into the role of being the playmaker more so than a scorer. With just the way our team is it’s just so versatile. We have so many guys that can shoot the ball well that my ability to score is opening up the passing and play-making. It makes the game easier when I can find guys for easy baskets,” George added.
“He did a good job, touching the paint. Being aggressive, they were blitzing, him making the right pass and making the play. Distributing the basketball, touching the paint, and making the right reads and the right play,” coach Lue said, summarizing Paul George’s game in that win.
With this win over the Kings, the Clippers ensure this avoids a losing season. Additionally, this new look Clippers squad has set a new franchise record for threes made in a single season this year. Highlighting the versatility that George spoke about, including the unity this team has been playing with. All throughout the season team has collectively played with resiliency that has been exciting for fans across the league to see and is proven by their historic comebacks throughout the season.
Ty Lue deserves a lot of credit for creating an atmosphere that allows everyone on the team to flourish individually and as a unit. If music calms a savage beast, Ty Lue is the Drake or Lil Wayne of today’s head coaches because he’s at the top of his game.
“He has the ability to kid around and joke but he also has the ability to get downhill immediately. I think those are the things players respect. When you have a high basketball IQ like he has it’s easy for guys to relate to the input,” Sacramento Kings head coach Alvin Gentry said about Clippers Ty Lue.
In a quick turnaround, the now 41-40 Clippers will finish their season at home against the 14th seeded Oklahoma City Thunder just one night later. The Sacramento Kings would travel to Phoenix to face the Suns in their season finale.
With the playoffs position already established, they would sit Paul George, Marcus Morris Jr., Reggie Jackson, and Norman Powell for maintenance purposes. Against the 24-57 Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers would still have a chance to finish with a .500 record against the Western Conference teams in this final game of their season. Knowing playoffs bring a different excitement to the game, I was curious where were coach Lue’s excitement for the team, the season, and their progress.
“After we won, to be .500 at the worse. All the things we’ve been through, and now having a chance to play in the play-in games and make the playoffs; I was excited for our team and the guys in the locker room,” said Lue about his excitement level in regards to the pending NBA playoffs.
As great as a coach he’s been, Ty has also been the master of deception all season. His selfless knack for crediting the players and the players’ development staff for the teams’ growth and development. However, those same players, credit Ty Lue for building a culture, being understanding, and being extremely knowledgeable about the game. Though he will not win the Coach of the Year Award, some say having a team play without their best player in the lineup for the entire season and their second-best player miss 50 of their games this season, still finishing in the eighth seed of the murderous Western Conference. Which could be the best coaching job of his career thus far.
“Defensive I thought we were really strong. Offensively with 34 assists, moving the basketball, and playing the right way, that’s what we wanted to see tonight going into the play-in game,” Ty Lue said post-game about their win earlier in the season.
Against the Thunder, the Clippers allowed 18 points and 16 points in the first and third quarters, respectively. Conversely, they scored 39 and 29 points in those quarters, led by Amir Coffey’s career night; points (35), rebounds (10), and three-pointers made (six). This 50-point win became the team’s largest margin of victory in franchise history, simultaneously securing their 11th-straight winning season, which happens to be the longest active streak in the NBA.
Kindly share your thoughts on the Clippers season. Can they make any noise in the playoffs, I think making the playoffs with their key players missing says a lot about the resiliency, of the team and the job Ty Lue has done as a head coach this season? Let me know what you think of the Clippers by reaching out to me on Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or send me an email to email@example.com to make your voice heard. I’d also encourage you to forward any suggestions on what topics or angles about this new version of the Los Angeles Clippers you would like to read about this season.
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