Clippers complete insane Grammy road trip
The Clippers and Lakers have both been making the annual Grammy road trips ever since the Grammy Awards decided to make Staples Center their home, but never has there been a Grammy road trip like the Clippers just completed.
The Clippers only went 3 – 3 on this trip but given the context of those six games, that was a massive success story.
Game One was against the Pistons in Detroit. The Clippers were down by 25 points and won the game making it the largest comeback in team history. The game started at 05:00 Saturday Night which was a big deal because they had to fly to Toronto, get through customs, and get ready to play the Raptors at 03:00 the next day.
Game Two was against the Raptors and they predictably lost because they were playing one of the best teams in basketball and had exhausted themselves the night before by coming back from being down 25 points.
Game Three was against the Charlotte Hornets. Three games in four nights and the Clippers found themselves down by over 21 points once again. Once again they came back and won the game on a shot by Tobias Harris. This was the first time in the brief history of Tobias Harris he had made a game-winning shot for the Clippers. I was looking forward to many such games.
The trade deadline was 36 hours away. Sometime that night the Clippers traded away Tobias Harris. Yup, within hours they had traded away the guy who had just made the game-winning shot against the Hornets. The announced traded was crazy, as the Clippers sent Tobias Harris, Boban, and Mike Scott to the 76rs for a bevy of talent. The Clippers received the 76rs number one pick (26th overall) Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala (remember that name), Wilson Chandler, two first round picks, and two-second picks. It was a stunning trade and seemed to be signaling a white flag for the 2019 postseason even though they were in 8th place in front of the Kings/Lakers. Much of the analysis after the trade felt that Tobias would be a perfect fit for the 76rs but that the Clippers had achieved two goals. They cleared cap space for a max player this summer. They received multiple goodies that could either help re-build their future or be flipped for another max player.
As a Clipper fan, I was bummed to see two of my favorite Clippers get traded but was very excited about what they were trying to achieve. I believed in the West/Frank front office and felt if they thought they could get Leonard / Durant here, why should I doubt them?
I had one final favor to ask of West/Frank. Please move Avery Bradley.
Nothing happened on Wednesday and I woke up Thursday wondering if something was going to happen.
It did. In a mind-blowing deal, the Clippers traded Avery Bradley to the Grizzlies for two expiring contracts Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green. Why mind-blowing? A casual fan probably thought Avery Bradley was a good player, and he might be, but not for the Clippers. The advanced metrics had shown he was the worst starter on the team and one of the worst starters in all of basketball. Doc Rivers kept starting him, the starting unit kept getting in big holes, like the two they dug out of in Detroit and Charlotte. The Clippers also had a glut of guards but no forwards after the Harris trade so this trade got rid of one of the guards and brought in a big forward and a small forward.
That was cool enough, I thought West/Frank was done. I even visited TBLA which I rarely do anymore and was happy to have a very good basketball conversation with about five different members. As the trade deadline loomed I got a bizarre tweet.
The Clippers are trading Mike Muscala to the Lakers for Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
I felt the tweet had to be in error. How could the Clippers be picking up the young center from the Lakers for a bit piece they had got acquired in the Tobias Harris deal? But it wasn’t. This was a real deal. The Clippers had acquired a 21-year-old Center for a backup center. Not just a 7-foot body, but a player with skills. Skills the Clippers badly needed for the center spot.
To finish off the roster, the Clippers waived their previous starting center Marcin Gortat and the Euro guard who never played Milos. They also waived Beasley.
The oldest player on the team was now just thirty-two-years old. They had four players twenty-one or younger and a bevy of draft picks. They also weren’t punting the postseason. They may have traded their best player in Harris but they also removed their two worst starters and replaced them with much better options.
The problem was they had a game to play that night in Indiana with very few players since none of the players acquired in the deals would be available on such short notice. Indiana had just crushed the LeBron led Lakers to the worst loss in LeBron’s history. The Clippers gave them a brief fight but fell 116 – 92 and were now 2- 2 on the road trip and had fallen behind by over twenty points in every one of the four games. Hold that thought.
Game Five was against the Boston Celtics and it didn’t seem they would stand a chance. The new players had arrived but how cohesive could the team possibly be with four new players? We should also mention that the Celtics had just blown a 16 point 4th quarter lead to the Lakers at their own place so the Celtics should be in a bad mood. They were, they built a twenty-eight point lead against the Clippers. Twenty-Eight points. The most the Clippers had ever come behind from was twenty-five points and that was just a week ago against the Pistons. Didn’t matter. The Clippers not only erased the twenty-eight point lead they won by eleven points. Against the Celtics. The new center combination of Zubac/Harrell poured in thirty-three points, fifteen rebounds, and four blocked shots. Landy Shamet hit four three-pointers in the 4th quarter and looked every bit the JJ Redick comparison. Eight Clippers scored in double figures.
In a five-game span, the Clippers had won three games that they had trailed by over 21 points. No team had ever done that.
Game six was a formality. Once again they fell behind, this time by twenty-three points and once again they came back but not enough. They only got to within four points before the long laborious road trip sucked all the life from their legs and succumbed to the Twolves.
Might have been the most successful 3 – 3 road trip ever done.
Wilson Chandler will be joining the team soon. There is no white flag so if the Kings and Lakers are going to pass the Clippers they are going to have to earn it.