While the other Los Angeles team was in shambles, the Los Angeles Clippers quietly established a winning culture on a roster that is on the rise.
Not many teams can boast a playoff berth after trading away the best player on their team. The Clippers will be major players in free agency over the next few seasons with two max contracts and a decent stash of assets after trading Tobias Harris to Philadelphia. Los Angeles has the funds to add two max-level contracts to the books this season and already possess the supporting cast to compliment a superstar.
Most casual fans would struggle to name even the starting five but the Clippers have an attractive mix of high-potential young talent and proven productive veterans. No matter what happens in the playoffs this season 48 wins is a huge vote of confidence for a team that will only get better as time goes on.
The Clippers are the largest first-round underdog since 1988 as they take on the Golden State Warriors with 100-1 odds to come out on top against the two-time defending champions.
The Dubs are healthy and will have a motivated DeMarcus Cousins who will be using this playoff run as an audition for his next contract. Golden State is loaded with superstars and still are one of the deepest teams in the league. The ageless wonders Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston will be leading the bench mob.
Golden State is ready-made for the playoffs and have started out on fire with more championships (three) than first-round lost games (two) in the last four years. They took the season series against the Clippers 3-1 with their last game being a blowout victory against a Los Angeles team that was missing two starters (Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverley) due to injury.
All Times Eastern
- Game 1: Clippers at Warriors, Saturday, April 13, 8 p.m. — TV: ABC
- Game 2: Clippers at Warriors, Monday, April 15, 10:30 p.m. — TV: TNT
- Game 3: Warriors at Clippers, Thursday, April 18, 10:30 p.m. — TV: TNT
- Game 4: Warriors at Clippers, Sunday, April 21, 3:30 p.m. — TV: ABC
- Game 5*: Clippers at Warriors, Wednesday, April 24, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 6*: Warriors at Clippers, Friday, April 26, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 7*: Clippers at Warriors, Sunday, April 28, TBD — TV: TBD
How can they succeed?
The number eight seed has upset the number one seed only five times in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors certainly do not present a strong case to become the sixth.
Los Angeles will be taking on arguably the greatest team ever assembled, with three starters under the age of 22. A lot will have to go right for them while simultaneously going wrong for the Warriors in order for them to have a chance.
The Clippers have no star power. They rely on a scrappy roster fueled by the hard-nosed attitudes of Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell while getting ‘just-add-water’ microwave offense from Lou Williams. Lou will have to have everything working for him on offense in order to keep Los Angeles in it. The Warriors have the bodies and experience to make life hard on the defensive end. Good defense is always susceptible to better offense, however, and once Williams gets hot there is nothing anyone can do.
Who Is Their X-Factor?
The X factor here is not even a who it’s a what. Youth! Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, and Ivica Zubac are all high-ceiling young guys who lack playoff experience. Shamet has played out of position as a 6’5″ small forward and still managed to contribute meaningful possessions on both ends of the floor.
They would say otherwise but the Clippers have zero pressure to win this series. This series really serves as a critical breeding ground and priceless experience for their young core. Los Angeles loves their timeline and anticipates bringing stars in to put this group over the top.
Getting a week and a half to spar against the Golden State Warriors could bring the best out of this young roster like a March Madness team and who knows. The problem is in the NBA you have to go out and do that four times. If the Clips’ young trio comes out swinging hard on both ends of the floor perhaps the results could shock the world.
One Positive Stat In Their Favor
Let’s be honest. There are no basketball numbers that present a reason to believe that the Clippers will pull this off. The 100-1 odds are the best stat here because Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell will no doubt be motivated and lead a locker room with a chip on its shoulder. Oddsmakers had the Clippers over/under at 35 wins this year so a playoff berth in itself should be a tremendous confidence booster. An upset would be historic. You never know!