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The Clippers Are Clicking

Paul George Clippers
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

On October 31st, 2023, the Los Angeles Clippers made a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers by trading Marcus Morris, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, Robert Covington, multiple draft picks, and a pick swap for James Harden. Harden, who is a 10-time all-star and former MVP, was not happy with his situation with the 76ers, with reports stating that there was friction between him and General Manager of the 76ers, Daryl Morey. The Clippers started out playing very poorly, going on a 6-game losing streak after trading for James Harden. Head Coach Tyronn Lue had a big challenge in front of him, trying to figure out how they could start to turn it around with the big four. After making adjustments in the starting rotation with Russell Westbrook, the Clippers have a record of 15-10 with Harden and, at one point, had a 9-game winning streak.

Kawhi Leonard’s Resurgence

After a slow start to the season, Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard has suddenly picked up his game, especially on the 6-game winning streak. During the season, Kawhi Leonard is quietly averaging around 24 points, six rebounds, and four assists. He is also shooting 51% on field goals, 44% on three-pointers, and 87% on free throws. What makes Leonard great is not only his offensive game but also his defensive game. He has started to look like the person who won Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back years. He has been more assertive on the defensive end, guarding the other team’s best player and making it tough for them to score. The opposing players are also having trouble just getting by him, as he is averaging almost two steals per game. He is playing at a high level as the best player on the team.

Leonard has been absent in the last three games with a hip injury. The Clippers have gone 1-2 with those games. The injury once again underscores how important health is to this team.

Russell Westbrook’s Move to the Bench

It was clearly obvious when the Clippers traded for James Harden that one of the big four had to come off the bench. After the 6-game losing streak, it was announced that Russell Westbrook decided to make the move to the bench. Ever since the move, he has played fairly well, even with his minutes and stats decreasing. His activity and energy off the bench have been key to why the Clippers have started to turn it around, doing really well rebounding and playmaking for his teammates. When looking back at it, this will be the move that helped the Clippers upstart their play on the court.

Can the Clippers Keep Up the Success?

With the Clippers starting to get it together, the question shifts to if they can keep it up. Clippers fans have been waiting for a long time to have something to root for. In the history of the Clippers organization, they have been to the Conference Finals once and have not made it past this level. Can this Clippers team be the first one to reach the finals and win? It will come down to the health of their star players, Leonard and Paul George. They have had issues staying healthy, but the sky’s the limit if they can stay healthy. We will also need to see if this play will translate to the Playoffs. If the big four can play their roles and build chemistry, they will be a tough team to eliminate if they make the Playoffs.

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Aaron Mata is a contributor on Back Sports Page. He is currently in his third year of college, attending George Mason University with the goal of graduating next year with a degree in Sports Management. 

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