The Clippers have struggled over the past few games and Paul Pierce believes that it's because of Russell Westbrook's absence. Following his trade from the 76ers, James Harden integrated well into the Clippers' system, contributing to one of the league's major success stories of the year. The Clippers are 39-22 with James Harden in their lineup per StatMuse and are still vying for a top spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

But, the departure of Russell Westbrook from the lineup with a left-hand fracture has led to a significantly rough stretch for the Clippers this month. Without Westbrook, who was injured in the Clippers win over the Wizards March 1st, are 5-5 without him in this stretch. They recently suffered tough losses against Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, which has led to Paul Pierce wondering if the C;ippers are missing his leadership skills.

“They don't got no leadership out there right now with Westbrook out,” Pierce said on his podcast with Kevin Garnett Ticket & The Truth. “People don't understand how big Westbrook is for that team, like who's the voice, you got leadership on the sideline, but you know you got to have leadership in that locker room, in the game, on the bench right there. Like Westbrook, since he went down, think about this, who’s going to say something. Like I respect Kawhi, and I respect where Paul George is coming from, and I respect Harden, but the loudest voice in that room is Westbrook. Because he shows the most passion, he shows the most energy.

Pierce's insight seems valid, given the Clippers' upcoming challenging matches against playoff teams from both the Eastern and Western conferences. Despite holding the 4th spot in the Western Conference, the Clippers are merely 3 games ahead of the Suns in 7th place, potentially facing the play-in game.

When Is Westbrook Scheduled to Return?

Clippers Russell Westbrook looking sad/upset next to a Clippers logo. Background is Arena

Russell Westbrook's return to the lineup seems imminent, per comments by Paul George.

George gave an injury update on Podcast P with Paul George, presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment.  “He doing good I checked up on him yesterday actually and spirits are high…He’s superhuman bro. No telling he’ll probably be back [soon]…I know we talked when Zu [Ivica Zubac] was here like we never see him hurt. He’s the most durable person….It’s probably good that he’s taking this little time away”

Westbrook has seen a bit of a career resurgence since being signed by the Clippers on the buyout market in the 2022-2023 season. This season, he's averaging 11.1 points per game, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game in 22 minutes per game in 58 games. With Westbrook in the lineup, the Clippers have significant guard depth wth Harden and Westbrook both being able to lead the offense.

The Clippers face off against the Blazers tonight at 10 PM EST.