Los Angeles defied the odds and punched their ticket to the playoffs.
Tuesday night at the Target Center in Minnesota, Minneapolis, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Timberwolves 122-111 and clinched the fifth spot in the playoffs.
The Clippers have been a band of misfits this season who exceeded pre-season expectations in clinching a spot in the playoffs despite trading away a leading scorer and potential all-star at the trade deadline.
At one point in this season, the Los Angeles Clippers held the top spot in the NBA as they started the season with a 14-6 record. They notched wins over some heavy-hitter teams in the league such as the Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Even then, no one had the Clippers on their radar for the postseason.
Prior to the start of the season, Vegas oddsmakers put the Clippers win total over/under 35.5 wins for the season, meanwhile FiveThirtyEight’s odds had them winning just 33 games this season with a 16 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Throughout the season, the Clippers continued to increase their postseason odds even without a huge star as these experienced role players continued to play hard as a unit with Doc Rivers leading the way as their head coach.
Los Angeles may not have a “superstar” but these players go out on the court and show out every night. At one point in the season, they had potential All-Stars in Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris as their nightly performances helped the Clippers in their quest to stay afloat in the Western Conference.
Gallinari has been a stud for Los Angeles this season as he has been a scoring catalyst in the starting lineup. After not playing for the Clippers last season due to injury, Gallinari came into this season healthy and refreshed.
In his bounce-back year, Gallinari has been scoring, facilitating, and having a defensive presence in the starting lineup for the Clippers.
Off the bench, the duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell have been on a tear as well. On a nightly basis, we know what Williams brings off the bench with his sharp shooting and impact on the floor. Harrell has developed into a dependable and serviceable big man off the bench for the Clippers with his energy.
With Williams’ minutes decreased this season, he has still been a productive player for the Clippers as he a favorite for the Sixth Man of the Year award again this season. Williams has continued his scoring and has been a facilitator on the floor for the second unit.
Harrell has grown tremendously this season off the bench as an instant impact player for the Clippers. There are stretches of games when he is on the floor that he brings energy to keep the team afloat. Harrell has been a beast on the boards, especially on the offensive end, and a dominant player in the post on getting shots and blocks around the rim.
He has certainly made a case for himself as another Sixth Man of the Year candidate for the Clippers this year.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has finally come into his own during his rookie season this year. He had a good start to the season, but his a rookie wall in January and now has found his stride with the Clippers. He has played the game not like a rookie as his game is very mature for his age.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s mid-range game is sleek. He also has great vision on the floor to create plays for teammates when he is facilitating. Defensively, he is able to use his length around the perimeter in disrupting opposing offenses.
After the Clippers traded away Boban Marjanović and Tobias Harris then waived Marcin Gortat, three players who started the season with the team, Los Angeles continued to play on. Following these transactions, the Clippers have a 15-5 record.
The new additions in Ivica Zubac, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green, and Landry Shamet have become accustomed to the Clippers’ culture and schemes while contributing to this run that they have been on post-All-Star Break.
This team has been a surprise to many, but they have stayed the course this season and continued to let their game speak for them every night. The Clippers already succeeded their record from last season as they were 42-40 and in 10th place.
Los Angeles currently sits in sixth place following their 128-118 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday with a 45-31 record overall.
With their spot set in the postseason, these last games of the regular season are all about fighting for a good position in the playoff picture.