The Los Angeles Clippers have played some pretty good competition thus far in the 2020-21 season. All but one of their opponents is likely to be a playoff team at seasons end. The only exception being the Minnesota Timberwolves. That being said, it’s safe to say the goal was to be 5-0 at this juncture, but a 4-1 record isn’t all that bad. Interesting, the only team that beat the Clippers thus far, the Dallas Mavericks, only have that single win to their credit. The 2020-21 season has been just as weird as its predecessor so far.
The Portland Trailblazers boast arguably the best backcourt in all of basketball. They are favored by some to win it all this season. This game would be a good test to see where the Clippers were after a somewhat up and down start to the season. Well, if their game against the Blazers is any indication, things are A-OK in Clipper Nation.
Star of the Game
Kawhi Leonard returned to the Clippers after missing two games due to a mouth laceration that required 8 stitches. Wearing a mask to protect his face Leonard looked a bit out of sorts to start the game. It didn’t take long however for him to start doing Kawhi-like things. He led the Clippers in scoring with 28 points on 9/17 shooting. Not a bad night for the masked Clipper. While Kawhi earns Star of the Game honors, I think it’s important to call out Serge Ibaka for going a full game without once injuring Leonard or any other Clippers player. Rumors of his pending trade from the Clippers have now been debunked.
Only real concern for the Clippers is the continued absence of Marcus Morris Sr. He remains sidelined and listed as day-to-day with right knee soreness. Nicolas Batum has proven to be a more than effective replacement for MMS at this point, so this isn’t a huge concern. But, it is the biggest for the Clippers going into 2021.
It was a bit of a surprise that the Clippers beat the Blazers as handily as they did. The Blazers were coming off a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers and looked poised to make a real statement before leaving LA. Instead, the Clippers took the lead about 1/2 way into the first quarter and never relinquished it. Every Clippers player contributed something to the win, but Nicolas Batum’s consistency has proven to be a nice surprise. Against the Blazers he had 11 points which was just two off his season high. More impressive, he was 2-2 from three-point territory and continues to provide veteran leadership.
The Clippers go to Utah to face the Jazz, another likely playoff team this season. This will be the first game for the Clippers played in front of fans almost 10 months. The Jazz have opened up Vivint Home Smart Arena to 1,500 fans in the lower bowl and some limited suite-level seating.
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!