The Los Angeles Clippers clinched the fifth playoff spot in the Western Conference on Tuesday night. After defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-111, the Clippers solidified their spot as the most surprising team in the NBA. However, they haven’t been a surprise for quite awhile.
The Clippers have won six straight games to move ahead of the Utah Jazz in a close race. Currently, they are two games out of third place in the playoff race. They are also two games out of the eighth seed. With seven games to play, the Clippers still have plenty of work to do. At this rate, expect the unexpected when it comes to a Doc Rivers coached squad.
The Clippers are (45-30) and they have an opportunity to win 50 games this season. More importantly, the Clippers have a legitimate opportunity to advance in the playoffs. Although they haven’t faced postseason obstacles as a team, they have individuals that have been in playoff battles.
For example, leading scorer Lou Williams is not known for his postseason performances, but he has played in 52 postseason games. Williams is scoring 20.3 points per game off the bench. His last playoff action came with the Houston Rockets in 2017. Williams averages 11.2 points per game in the postseason.
Surprisingly, Danilo Gallinari has only appeared in 12 playoff games. Both of those appearances came roughly eight years ago with the Denver Nuggets. Gallinari averaged 12.8 points in those two playoff series’. He is scoring over 19 points per game this season.
A third veteran with playoff experience is point guard Patrick Beverley. He made four playoff appearances with the Houston Rockets from 2013-17. Beverley is averaging 9.8 points per game in 28 playoff games. He also brings a defensive tenacity to the Clippers that will definitely propel them to compete at a high level come postseason time.
These veterans have been a mainstay for the Clippers all season long. When the Clippers traded Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers, it seemed like the bottom would fall out. Remember, the trade helped unleash the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings talk about a postseason run. Turns out, neither of those teams were close to the level the Clippers were ready to play at.
They didn’t complain about not having enough help, either. The Clippers constructed a lot of young talent on the roster and everybody seems to be making the best of the situation. No matter where they finish in the regular season, the Clippers will probably not be the favorite to move into the second round. Well, they weren’t supposed to earn a postseason berth this season. Therefore, I advise all the Western Conference teams to be careful what they wish for.