The CW (Clipper Weekly), 9th Edition
Current Record: 19-21, 3rd Pacific, 9th West
Last Week: The Clippers mostly took advantage of a soft spot in the schedule and some fortunate timing to move up a spot in the West rankings. The Warriors, who the Clips passed in the standings, had only eight healthy players on Monday, yet it was enough to handily beat a mostly healthy Clippers squad (Tim Thomas sat out with an ear infection). Coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. got to listen to the Oakland crowd vociferously boo his son Mike Dunleavy Jr., despite the fact that junior Dunleavy played perhaps his best game of the season with 18 and 13. By Wednesday, the Warriors had consummated an eight-player trade with the Pacers, leaving Golden St. with only six healthy players. Apparently, this was more to the Clippers liking, as they won a closer than expected bout with the Warriors’ depleted roster at Staples. Memphis provided no such challenge, and the Clips swept the season series against the lowly Grizzlies with a 21-point blowout win on Saturday.
Quick Take: Even after a 2-1 week, the Clippers don’t inspire a great deal of confidence. Winning teams take advantage of weak, undermanned opponents; they go for the kill when they have a chance. In reality, the Clips should have gone 3-0 given the injury problems of the Warriors. During Wednesday night’s win, the Clippers opened up a 23-point third quarter lead, then relaxed and nearly coughed up the whole thing despite their overwhelming personnel advantage. This lack of mental toughness is at the heart of the team’s inconsistent performance and a significant departure from last season. Sam Cassell has been playing great since returning from injury (19.7 points, 12 dimes last week) but as the emotional leader, he’s got to find a way to inspire some of his teammates to step up as well.