Over at ESPN Los Angeles, I wrote about the inconsistency of the Clippers’ bench without Spencer Hawes, especially in their loss to the Raptors. Click here to read the full article. Here is an excerpt from the piece:
The theme reverberating from the Los Angeles Clippers locker room after their 110-98 loss to the Toronto Raptors was that the team was exhausted after a brutal stretch of seven games in 11 days.
“It felt like we ran out of gas before the game started,” Chris Paul said.
“I thought that in the first half we were in trouble,” coach Doc Rivers echoed. “I thought we were exhausted. Toronto played great, so we have to give them some credit.”
With their sixth loss in 10 games, the Clippers are probably the most difficult team to gauge among the West’s playoff hopefuls. Are they still the squad that was the clear-cut third, if not second-best, team in the West the past season? Or, as their play this season suggests, have they fallen behind the rest of the pack, somewhere into the middle or lower end of the playoff race?
It’s difficult to suss out what is legitimate and what is just noise before the turn of the calendar year, but one thing is clear through 31 games: The Clippers’ bench isn’t as deep or productive as last season’s, and this is affecting their ability to win close games against good teams.