They will always have Skip. While the last year has been packed with trials and tribulations for the Clippers, the one thing that has remained constant for the team is that Fox Sports chatterer Skip Bayless is going to be pulling for them, seeing as he considers the Clips to be the best chance for a West team to knock off his real target, Lakers star LeBron James.
On Saturday, even as the very shorthanded Lakers were putting up an impressive win over the Nets in Brooklyn, Bayless chimed in on Twitter to suggest that James ought to be afraid of the depth of talent the Clippers have assembled.
In fact, Bayless called it a “thunderstorm.”
Hey, Bron: A thunderstorm is coming. Rondo/Kawhi/PlayoffP/TheBetterMorrisTwin/PatBev/IbakaZu/Reggie/Nickie/Boogie/TMann/Luke/TLue. Gonna reign on your parade, Jam your Space.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 11, 2021
Clippers Rounding Into Form, Even With Injuries
Good timing, really. Even with the Lakers’ win, the rest of the Western Conference has been scalding hot, which has buried the Lakers deeper in the standings as they try to weather the storm of absences from Anthony Davis and James.
Davis has been out with an injury to his calf/Achilles tendon since February 14. James has been out with a high ankle sprain since March 20. The team is 12-14 since Davis went out during a loss to the Nuggets, and 5-7 since James went out during a loss to the Hawks.
The Clippers, meanwhile, have been rounding into form lately. They are 10-2 in their last 12 games and have won four in a row. In that stretch, their offensive rating has been 121.3 points per 100 possessions, tops in the NBA by far. The defense has allowed 107.2 points per 100 possessions, fifth in that span.
The downside is that point guard Patrick Beverley—which could keep him out until the playoffs begin—is out with a hand injury, and the Clippers have gone just 15-8 without him, 22-10 with him.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley underwent surgery on his left hand and will miss at least 3-to-4 weeks, team says.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 10, 2021
Still, the team likes its depth in the backcourt with new point guard Rajon Rondo, plus the combo of Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann. In fact, Mann had nine assists in the Clippers’ win over the Rockets, with both Beverley and Rondo out. Jackson had 26 points and seven assists.
“Watching film, seeing things differently, seeing different gaps, different ways to get my teammates open and myself open,” Mann said.
But Mann did lament the loss of Beverley. “It’s sad, kind of sucks,” Mann said, according to the L.A. Times. “He just got back. Can’t really catch a break right now. But he’ll recover fast.”
Clippers’ Easy Schedule Could Set up Early Lakers Playoff Matchup
What’s more, the Clippers have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA ahead of them, according to Tankathon.com. Their opponents’ remaining winning percentage is only .458. Top-seeded Utah is No. 1 at .445, but after the Jazz and Clippers, no other team in the West’s Top 5 is in the Top 14 for easiest remaining schedule.
The Nuggets’ schedule ranks 15th (.493), the Suns are 24th (.545) and the Lakers are 25th (.545).
That could set up a remarkable set of events in the coming weeks. The Clippers are currently the No. 3 seed in the West and the Lakers are No. 5 in the conference, just a game-and-a-half over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers could easily slip into the No. 6 seed, setting up a first-round matchup between the two L.A. teams.
Alternatively, the Clippers could slip into the No. 4 seed, with the Lakers remaining at No. 5, also putting the Clippers-Lakers first-round matchup into play. It was a showdown many, including the aforementioned Bayless, expected to see in the Western Conference finals. It may come this year, except earlier than expected.