Tonight's player to watch is once again Demar Derozan. He scored 22pts in last Friday's 20 point win against the Knicks and is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. If we want revenge tonight, we will have to do a better job on the defensive end!
The Clippers are going head first into dangerous waters. Losers of 9 straight including a 22 point loss to the New York Knicks on Monday. However, this many games into the NBA season last year the Clippers' story was very, very different.
16 games into the 2016-17 NBA season the Clippers were 14-2 and led the entire NBA. The Clippers were first in the West and had a top five defense.
16 games into 2017-18 and the Clippers are now 5-11 and have fallen to near the bottom of the Western Conference. Problems stem from several sources. One of the biggest problems has been injuries three significant members of the team's starting five in Milos Teodosic, Patrick Bevereley, and Danilo Gallinari all missing time this season. Another problem has been nepotism with Austin and Doc Rivers. Austin Rivers has been wildy ineffective for the Clippers, evident in L.A.'s last game where the guard scored just 2 points in 32 minutes going 1-9 from the floor and finishing with a +/- of -20 against the Knicks. Yet, Doc Rivers, (Austin's father), has been playing Austin Rivers like he's the team's star point guard having led the L.A. Clippers in minutes more times than not. Coaching in late game situations has also been terrible for L.A. who have lost nearly half of their eleven losses in the last five minutes of each game. There is a serious Rivers problem in L.A.
Now the Clippers will be without Patrick Beverley for an undisclosed amount of time after it was revealed Wednesday morning that his knee would require surgery. Things do not look good for the Clippers right now and a game against the Atlanta Hawks may finally be the tipping point. If the Clippers can prove they can still win against a team like Atlanta, it can show that there is still hope for L.A. However, a loss to the Hawks essentially spells nothing good for the team.