Losing 129-114 to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, the Los Angeles Clippers have now lost three games in a row and are sliding down the standings in the Western Conference. The Clippers are now 40-26, which is fifth in the West — but led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, the OKC Thunder are within a half-game of the No. 5 seed. The Memphis Grizzlies are also right behind the Clippers, just a game back, and if Los Angeles doesn’t end their losing streak soon, the Clips could end up becoming the sixth or seventh seed.
The prospect of falling to seventh in the West coupled with the team’s losing streak has made Clippers guard J.J. Redick very frustrated.
Redick: "I don’t know what to expect from this team anymore. We’re in a bad place right now. … We’ve been s*** since the All-Star break."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) March 17, 2017
Redick’s brutal assessment of his own team may sound a bit harsh, but he isn’t wrong. The Clippers have gone 5-8 since the All-Star break and could potentially end up becoming the seventh seed in the West, which means a first-round matchup against either the San Antonio Spurs or maybe even the Golden State Warriors. Also since All-Star weekend, the Clippers are the second worst defensive team in the league, giving up 112.4 points per 100 possessions. Only the woeful Lakers are worse than the Clippers on defense. The Clippers still have a top-10 offense, but with their defense being so porous and weak, it isn’t surprising that they haven’t played well since the All-Star break.
The Clippers’ woeful defense is likely why Redick said, “I don’t know what to expect from this team anymore.” Before the All-Star break, the Clippers had a top-10 defense and seemed locked in for the fifth or possible fourth seed in the West, especially since Los Angeles played well when both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were out with injuries. But now Paul and Griffin are both back yet the Clippers haven’t played up to their potential, losing winnable games and absolutely struggling on defense.
The Clippers will need to make need to tighten up on defense in this final stretch of the season if they want to remain in the fifth seed. Otherwise, the Clippers could potentially be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.