Since their inception in 1970 when they were known as the Buffalo Braves, the Los Angeles Clippers have been a disappointing franchise to say the least. Especially compared to their LA counterpart the Lakers. The Clippers have had good teams throughout the years but have failed to ever even make it to the Western Conference Finals. Their two best chances came in 2015 when the Chris Paul led Clippers had a 3-1 lead on the Houston Rockets and 2020 when the Kawhi Leonard led Clippers had a 3-1 lead on the Denver Nuggets and lost.
Despite their failures, this season might be the Clippers best opportunity to make it to the NBA finals. The two biggest factors for that is the acquisition of Rajon Rondo and the injury concerns for the Lakers. Of course the ACL injury to Nuggets star Jamal Murray also helps the Clippers case to make it out the west.
The reason I mentioned the Lakers injury concern is because if Lebron James and Anthony Davis can’t comeback and play at nearly 100% they won’t be able to make it to the NBA finals. Even with the addition of Andre Drummond, their supporting cast isn’t consistent enough to help a hobbled Lebron and AD get past teams like the Clippers or the Phoenix Suns.
In this past offseason, the Clippers made some improvements to their roster by replacing Montrezl Harrell with Serge Ibaka and acquiring Luke Kennard. However, what they were missing the most was a true point guard who could run their offence and put the team in the right position to get the most efficient shots possible. They addressed this issue at the trade deadline by acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Lou Williams. This was a massive upgrade for the Clippers as Williams seemed to be having a down season and hasn’t been the same since last year’s bubble.
Rondo has been an absolute godsend for the Clippers, they are 6-0 when he plays and in their game against the Phoenix Suns who have the second best record in the league, he made his presence known by dropping 15 points and 9 assists off the bench. He took over the 4th quarter by getting 8 points and dishing out 4 assists. In a game against the Detroit Pistons Rondo had 10 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Rondo isn’t gonna wow you with his stats the way he used to, but he can still dominate a game and makes such impactful plays offensively and defensively.
We’ve seen Rondo do it with the Chicago Bulls in the 2017 NBA playoffs. The Bulls were an 8th seed up against the Boston Celtics in the first round and they went up in the series 2-0. In the first 2 games Rondo averaged 11 points 8 rebounds and 10 assists. Unfortunately, Rondo would not play another game due to injury and the Bulls ended up losing the series 4-2. Another example of Rondo’s importance is how many crucial plays he made with the Lakers during their finals run last season. In the Finals Rondo averaged 8 points 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He played a great closeout game 6 by getting 19 points 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
I believe Rondo can bring that experience and pedigree to the Clippers which can help them finally get over the hump and to the finals. With Jamal Murray injured for the rest of the season the biggest threats to them making the finals are the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers. Having said that, the Lakers injury concerns are an advantage for the Clippers.
As always don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Family and check us out on Youtube ! This week on Weekly Sauce Terry and Alex the Intern sit down with Vincent Desharnais. The Montreal born, Edmonton Oilers prospect currently plays for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors! The guys discuss Vincent’s career as well as the highs and lows of living in Bakersfield.