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Have The LA Clippers Underperformed This Season?

The LA Clippers basketball team still holds the unenviable record of being the oldest NBA franchise to have never reached the NBA Finals.

However, after making it to the Conference Finals for the first time in 2021, hopes were high that their 52nd season could be special. So how has it worked out so far?

The Roster Changes and Injuries

After losing 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns in the 2020-21 Conference Playoffs, the Clippers entered the 2021 draft with just one pick but managed to get three new players in. Keon Johnson, Jason Preston, and BJ Boston all joined the LA team.

They followed this triple move by obtaining Eric Bledsoe in August. In February 2022, the Clippers brought in Robert Covington and Norman Powell, with Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson, and Justise Winslow all heading to the Portland Trail Blazers.

How have the new faces fitted in? Covington recently took advantage of a start against the Milwaukee Bucks by scoring a career-high total of 43 points and a franchise record of 11 3-pointers. The player is best-known for his defense but could now give the Clippers an extra dimension in attack.

Powell has had a difficult start to his career in LA, after fracturing a toe shortly after joining the team and having played just three games. At the time of writing, he’s just made his return and feels that the full-strength Clippers team is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Kawhi Leonard is one player who has been on the roster since 2019 but who has been badly missed lately. He suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage in the fourth game of the playoffs against Utah and had to undergo surgery on it.

Almost nine months later, it’s been reported that Leonard is now practicing free shots. While he didn’t appear to be moving as smoothly as before and no update has been provided by the team, the prospect of getting one of the league’s finest players back in time for the postseason is intriguing.

Paul George is another Clippers star who has recently returned from injury. The forward suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament that affected his right elbow. This injury occurred towards the end of December and George didn’t get back into action until the end of March

The Season’s Results So Far

In early April, the Clippers are sitting with a record of exactly 50% of games won and 50% lost. While this record is disappointing, it’s fair to say that the team has coped reasonably well with the injury problems that have robbed them of several star players at the same time.

Before the start of this current season, opinion was divided over how well the franchise would perform this season. There is no doubt that the serious injuries suffered by some of their best players have damaged their chances of a strong season, but they have held on and were recently rewarded by grabbing the eighth seed spot in the Western Conference.

This position was confirmed when the Clippers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 119-100, with Paul George coming back and scoring 15 points after missing 50 of the 79 games before it.

The next game saw the Clippers take on the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and win 113-109. Norman Powell topped the scoring with 24 points, followed by Paul George with 19 points. This meant that the Clippers ended the season with a 40-40 record following their third consecutive win. Yet, it has to be said that the Suns played a weakened team, having already secured the top spot and with one eye already on the playoffs.

What Are Their Chances in the Postseason?

There is an argument to be made for the LA Clippers coming into their best form and getting some of their big players back from injury at the perfect time. There’s no doubt that they’ve ended the regular season strongly and look to be in far better shape than they were for most of the season.

However, when we look at the latest NBA Finals odds, we can see that the Phoenix Suns are the favorites this year. They’re followed by the likes of the Bucks, the Nets, the Warriors, and the Celtics. You can check the complete odds here: https://www.bovada.lv/nba-betting

Where are the Clippers in the latest betting? You need to go all the way down to about +4000 or +4500 odds to find them. While this doesn’t guarantee their failure, it shows that they face a mighty challenge to win the Finals this season, and it would definitely be a huge upset if they did this.

The LA team still has to play their way into the Finals, and a game against a higher-seeded opponent makes their start extremely tough. If Leonard can get fit and back on the court quickly it could make a big difference, but for the moment Clippers fans probably aren’t yet ready to start dreaming of their first NBA finals appearance.