Leading by as many as 38 points at one stage, the LA Clippers picked up their 40th win of the season in a dominant 124-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This is their 10th straight season with at least 40 wins, the longest active such streak in the league. Talk about consistency.
▪️ Season-high 21 threes- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 19, 2021
▪️ All starters in double-figures
▪️ #ClipperNation back in the stands
📼 @honey highlights from win. No. 40 pic.twitter.com/0pj5tTmQpe
However, the hurdle for this franchise, especially over this past decade hasn't been regular-season success. It's been their play in the postseason, failing to register a single Conference Finals appearance.
After their much-talked-about elimination in the Conference Semifinals to the Denver Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs, the LA Clippers made plenty of changes in the offseason around their All-Star and All-NBA duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Those offseason roster modifications, including the promotion of Tyronn Lue to the position of head coach, have certainly made a difference, especially on the offensive end.
In the 2019-20 campaign, their offensive rating (113.3) was second only to the Dallas Mavericks' all-time mark of 115.9. This season, with about a month left, they lead the league in offensive rating with an all-time mark of 117.3.
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A large part of that has got to do with their 3-point efficiency.
They have as many as eight players (all players to have played at least half the games and double-digit minutes except Rajon Rondo - mid-season acquisition) shooting better than 38 percent from 3-point range as they knock down a league-best 42.1 percent from beyond the arc - the best three-point volume shooting team in NBA history (min 30 attempts per game).
It's not the volume but the efficiency. In this game against the Timberwolves, they nailed a season-high 21 3-pointers, in fact, three of the seven times in franchise history of the team making 20 or more 3-pointers have come this season.
PG13 continuing his 🔥 streak against Minnesota💪#ClipperNation | @LAClippers- Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) April 19, 2021
🎥: @honey pic.twitter.com/E3lMjyX8HA
Just like regular season all-time numbers need to be backed up by playoff success. Historic offences need reliable defences to fall back on, and that's where the Clippers contending chances lie.
For the season, LA's defensive rating ranks 10th in the league - a decent drop from their fifth-best defence last year.
Can the Clippers build a functional consistent defence around George and Leonard that can strangle the best teams in the league, no matter the matchup? Their defence has gone from 16th in December to 8th in January to 21st in February to 12th in March and then to 9th in April.
The other area of concern, put under the spotlight in the 2020 playoffs, is their play in the clutch. At this point, through 59 games, they rank in the bottom five of defensive rating, net rating, assists per game and field goal percentage.
Defence and play in 'tight situations' is key to going deep in the postseason, both of which are areas the Clippers still have to work on.
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