The Los Angeles Clippers game on Saturday at the Washington Wizards is a big game for the team’s confidence. Yes, the game is just one out of 82 in the big picture, but a basketball season is broken up into several small chunks that make up those 82 games. There are home stands, road trips, back-to-back games, four games in five nights, first home games following a long trip, etc. So every game has it’s own little side story besides the game on the court.
The game at Washington will be the seventh straight road game for the Clippers. In those previous six, they are 3-3. They are coming off a game where they started off with a 23-10 lead but from there got outscored 46-21 the rest of the first half, then got out to a rough start in the third quarter before dropping a nine-point decision to the Brooklyn Nets. Had they won that game, this game coming up against the Wizards has a whole different feel to it. Even if they lose, they come home 4-3 on the trip and feeling good. Now a loss means a 3-4 road trip. Ugh.
This would especially be troubling considering the last six of these games are with teams from the Eastern Conference. The other teams in the Western Conference are fattening up on the east so much that the east has only two teams above the .500 mark. But so far, the Clippers are not one of them. They have losses at the Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn. They do not need to add the Wizards to that list. These are games in which they are losing ground to the other west teams.
Is it time to panic? No. But a loss to the Wizards would be the fifth in eight games with a game with the San Antonio Spurs, who have the best record in the Western Conference, awaiting them when they arrive home. That first home game after a long road trip is basically another road game other than not having to sleep in a hotel. There is still the long trip and the jet lag to deal with.
So while this is just one of the 82, it is a game the team really needs to win, just for their mental health. This won’t be easy with John Wall averaging nine assists per game. But with their leading scorer, Bradley Beal unlikely to play with an injured leg, they have a better chance. The Clippers are still without Matt Barnes and J. J. Redick though, so they will not feel sorry for anyone on the injury front.
Hopefully, the Clippers will get a win on Saturday before going home to face the Spurs. They sure need it.