If we’re not going to hit the panic button after two disconcerting losses, then it seems fair to not be overly exuberant after their destruction of the team that broomsticked them out of the playoffs.
Okay, how about just a little bit of exuberance:
ZOMG! Dualing banjo 20/10 games for Blake and DeAndre?? A relatively smooth 22 point victory over what is easily the West’s best team in the early season?? 20+ minutes for Eric Bledsoe?? #FreeBledsoe
Settle down, Mike Smith. Let’s check out some of the problem areas that have surfaced from previous games:
It makes you wonder what the problems were with the losses to Cleveland and Golden State if the Clippers can defend as effectively as they did tonight against the Spurs (who consistently run some of the most elegant and efficient offense in the league). If it’s unfamiliarity and chemistry building, that will sort itself out as the season progresses. If the Clippers simply struggle to produce effort against perceived “inferior” opponents? Something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
I mentioned earlier it was a relatively smooth 22 point win, but the game was not without its flaws (this recap is subtitled “Almost a complete game” after all). The Clippers struggled on offense and defense for approximately 6 minutes of the 1st quarter, offering up no fewer than 3 wide open 3-pointers. The Spurs simply missed them. It’s also odd to see some turnovers that Los Angeles’ starters are committing. On more than one occasion, Clipper players would pass the ball to where they though their teammates would be, but no one was there. Sometimes a Clipper saved it, sometimes it just went out of bounds. Something must have changed in the offensive scheme from last season as almost all the starters are incumbents. These are the kind of mistakes understandable by the bench, an entirely new group, but puzzling for the starters.
Additionally, the Clippers were leading by 6 points at halftime. It was only after a strong 3rd quarter stretch that they blew the game wide open, pushing the lead to 20. The Spurs made a run early in the 4th, as quality teams are wont to, narrowing the gap to 11. But Los Angeles steadied the ship and re-extended the lead.
And all of this happened without the Clippers’ most consistent scorer this season, Jamal Crawford, even attempting a shot until 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd.
So the Clippers played by far their best game of the nascent season, on both ends of the floor. Almost a complete game. And yet there’s still so much that can be improved. This is a good problem to have.