Maybe the Clippers aren’t ready to make a championship run quite yet.
Back to back losses this week to a pair of former champs - the Spurs and the Pistons - revealed that the Clip show is a long way from truly challenging for anything in the post season. However, these games also proved that while the Clippers may not be true NBA championship contenders, they are definitely on the right track.
Against Detroit, the Clips simply lost to a much better team. With the exception of Elton Brand, the Pistons have better players at every position than the Clippers do. And even as great as Brand has been playing, the combination of the Wallace boys is enough to cancel out any advantage the Clippers may have hoped for in the front court.
But while the Pistons led the game wire to wire, the Clippers still showed flashes that they are on the right track. There was a spark and a fight to their play that LAist doesn’t remember seeing on past teams. Maybe it’s because guys like Sam Cassell have been on winners for most of their career, but this was not a Clippers team that feared the Pistons.
Instead, it looked like the Clippers actually believed they could beat the Pistons. Sure, they were wrong, but just believing you belong on the court with a team as good as the Pistons is the first step to eventually beating them.
The progress continued last night (in another loss unfortunately) against the Spurs. This time, the Clippers were very much in the game - you could even suggest that they had the game in their control and let it slip away. In the end, they lost because they haven't yet learned how to put a good team away and the Spurs made them pay.
All championship caliber teams know how to make plays when it counts. Tim Duncan may have shot 1 for 11 from the free throw line last night but when it mattered, with the game on the line, he stepped to the stripe and drained two foul shots to tie the game. Meanwhile, when the Clippers had the ball and a chance to get a last shot, they were barely able to get one off - settling for a wild Chris Kaman hook/scoop monstrocity. In overtime, the Spurs then ran away with the game.
So the end result for the Clips is a two game losing streak. However, buried in these losses were some signs of hope for the future. This team is definitely headed in the right direction - assuming they can get back on track tonight and snap the losing streak with a win over the lowly Hornets in Oklahoma City.