Clippers Struggle to Find Chemistry with New Big Four
The Los Angeles Clippers’ experiment with their star-studded lineup has hit a rough patch as they struggle to find chemistry and cohesion on the court. The addition of James Harden to a team already featuring Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook was supposed to elevate the Clippers to championship contenders, but early results have been disappointing.
Coach Tyronn Lue has been tinkering with different lineup combinations in an effort to find the right balance between offense and defense. When the team needs more scoring, Lue subs in Harden for Westbrook, creating a small lineup with Harden, George, Powell, Mann, and Leonard. However, this sacrifices defense and shooting, as players like Tucker or Westbrook are taken off the floor.
Against the Denver Nuggets, Leonard and George struggled to contain Nikola Jokic in the paint. The two-time MVP exploited the Clippers’ smaller lineup, drawing fouls on Leonard or rebounding his own misses for easy baskets. Despite the lineup changes, George had a chance to tie the score in the closing seconds but missed a shot over Reggie Jackson.
Lue has seen glimpses of why he made these lineup decisions. George had a strong performance against Denver, scoring 35 points and being aggressive on offense. Harden also showed signs of improvement, scoring in one-on-one situations and taking advantage of mismatches. However, he still missed some easy layups and had moments of inconsistency.
Harden’s Adjustment Period
Harden acknowledged that he is still adjusting to his new team and getting back into game shape after a limited training camp and preseason. He emphasized the importance of learning on the fly and treating games as his practice sessions.
Even Leonard, the franchise star, has experienced growing pains with the addition of Harden. His midrange game and clutch shot-making have dipped this season, shooting just 27% from midrange compared to 49.2% last season. Leonard has also shown frustration towards his teammates, pointing out their positioning on the court during games.
Clippers’ Fourth Quarter Woes
Leonard’s struggles have been evident in the fourth quarter, where he has averaged just 3.3 points on 39% shooting compared to 5.4 points on 51% shooting last season. Lue explained that defenses are double-teaming Leonard, making it difficult for him to find his rhythm. In recent games, Leonard has had limited shot attempts in the fourth quarter, further hindering his ability to contribute offensively.
Need for Sacrifice
The Clippers’ star-studded lineup has raised concerns about ball distribution and player roles. One assistant coach from a Western Conference team that recently defeated the Clippers pointed out their lack of fast-break points and the need for a better rhythm on offense. The coach suggested that one of the stars may need to sacrifice and come off the bench to create a more balanced lineup.
Westbrook’s Bench Role
Westbrook, who approached Lue about coming off the bench, could provide a boost to the second unit and allow Mann to start as a glue guy. With Westbrook running the point, Harden would have less ball-handling responsibilities and potentially find more scoring opportunities. Westbrook’s experience as a sixth man with the Lakers last season makes him well-suited for this role.
Buy-In and Progress
Lue acknowledges the challenge of keeping everyone happy and finding the right balance. He has yet to hear any of the stars offer to come off the bench or make sacrifices for the benefit of the team. However, he remains optimistic about the progress made in Denver, even with Westbrook playing fewer minutes than usual.
Despite the early struggles, George remains confident that the Clippers can make it work with their new Big Four. He believes that once they find their rhythm and chemistry, they will be a formidable team in a seven-game series.
n acknowledged that Westbrook’s role has changed from his days as an MVP player.
Despite the challenges and growing pains, Lue remains optimistic about the Clippers’ potential. He believes that as the team continues to play together and build chemistry, they will find their rhythm and improve.
“It’s going to take time,” Lue said. “But I think once we get it, we’re going to be a really good team.”
Lue’s experience coaching super teams and his ability to handle difficult situations have earned him the trust and support of his players, including Harden. Lue’s guidance and reassurance have helped Harden navigate his new role and adjust his offensive game.
As for Leonard, he has also faced some struggles this season, particularly with his midrange shooting. However, Lue remains confident in Leonard’s abilities and believes that he will find his rhythm as the season progresses.
Despite the challenges and criticisms, Lue is focused on finding the right lineup combinations and strategies to maximize the team’s potential. He understands that it will take time and patience, but he is determined to lead the Clippers to success.
Overall, Lue’s coaching style and ability to handle star players and navigate difficult situations will be crucial for the Clippers’ success this season. With his experience and the talent on the roster, Lue believes that the team has the potential to be a championship contender.