After all, we know who they are. They’ve had the same core basically since the arrival of Chris Paul in the summer of 2011. We’ve seen Lob City time and time again, coming up short for one reason or another.
The season is still young, but the Clippers are showing why preseason prognostications can be a fool’s task. The Clippers are the favorites to crash the party and ruin the seemingly inevitable Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Continuity matters in the NBA, especially early in the season. At 10-1, the Clippers own the best record in the NBA. Not only are they getting wins, they’re getting them convincingly.
The Brooklyn Nets, minus Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin, were the latest to become victims of the Clippers’ early season onslaught. On Monday, the Clippers raced to a 35-7 run to start the game on their way to a 127-95 victory.
The win against a cellar-dweller without their two best players wouldn’t be impressive on its own, but its the sixth win by double-digits in seven games. They’re not just doing it against the teams at the bottom standings.
During this run, they’ve demolished the Spurs in San Antonio by 24. In case you’ve forgotten, the Spurs tied a league-record by going 40-1 last season at home.
They destroyed the Portland Trail Blazers by 31, their second win this season against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season.
They exacted revenge on the only team that has beaten them this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The night after beating the Thunder, they defeated the Timberwolves by 14 on the road.
Also during this stretch, they’ve beaten the Pistons by 32 and the Grizzlies by 11.
The Clippers have been really good for a while, but have they made a jump to being great?
The core four-man unit of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and J.J. Redick has always been a force. They’ve carried some of the league’s best five-man units regardless of who that fifth man is. Not much has changed this season.
16 lineups have played 100+ minutes this season. The Clippers' starting five is the best by a significant margin… pic.twitter.com/XDI12WmyHd
The lineup stats for the starters are ridiculous, as they’re shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 44.4 percent on three-pointers.
The defense from the starting unit has been the difference between this season and years past. The starting unit has been lockdown, allowing only 84.5 points per 100 possessions.
The starters have set the tone defensively and the Clippers have allowed a league-best 93.0 points per 100 possessions. For comparison, the Spurs led the league in points allowed per 100 possessions last season at 96.6.
Will the defense remain this stingy? The rule of averages says that’s highly unlikely, but if they continue playing elite defense, they could shock the world in the playoffs.
None of the dominance from the starters is new, but their commitment to defense has paid dividends so far.
The Clippers’ bench unit of Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson, and Marreese Speights has played 11.5 minutes per night and they’re outscoring the opposition by 17.4 points per 100 possessions.
In the past, the Clippers’ starters have raced out to leads that have been chipped away or completely erased when the bench is on the floor.
Now with a veteran point guard running the show for the bench and Speights spacing the floor, the Clippers are able to expand on their leads while giving their starters a breather.