With their 115-92 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, December 16th the Los Angeles Clippers may have taken home their most important win to date at this point of the season. Looking at this team they are one of the harder groups to consider as early discussions abound as to which groups are leaders at this point in the 2013-2014 NBA season.
At 17-9 the Clippers are currently fourth in the Western Conference but haven't quite broken through as leaders of the pack. It's clear that this team is winning games, but what's interesting is that they are winning games in a style that is different than they've done in recent years.
The addition of Coach Doc Rivers has been key in how well this group is playing so far, but he shouldn't receive all the credit for their defensive play. Currently they are rated 12th in league defensive as they are holding teams to 98.9 points per game. In looking at past performances, this unit has consistently been a solid defensive team. DeAndre Jordan is recognized as their main stopper, but even as a complete unit they have performed better when the ball is in their opponent's hand. They have forced 406 turnovers this year while completing 175 steals and 87 blocks. All three of these statistics rank them within the top ten of each defensive area. Their effort against the Spurs on Monday night was the top performance against a current team that is within the Western Conference playoff hunt.
Another point worth noting is how well the individual improvements have hit the Clippers roster as well. Chris Paul is having a career year with 19.8 points and 11.3 assists per year. Blake Griffin has stayed at 20 and 10 to this point in the year but has looked more versatile in the ways he is scoring when the ball is in his hands. J.J. Redick has been a bright spot as the starting shooting guard with 15.8 points per in the 17 games that he's started for the Clippers.
Twenty-six games into the year the Los Angeles Clippers have looked very solid in both facets of the game. They've had two sub par performances in the post season in their last two trips but at this point in time this seems to be the team that will give them the best performance in recent memory.