By Brian Martin
From Nov. 28 to Dec. 30, the Los Angeles Clippers won 17 consecutive games, the longest regular season winning streak in the NBA since the Boston Celtics won 19 in a row during the 2008-09 season and just a little over halfway to reaching the Lakers' 33-game win streak during the 1971-72 season. Last year, the San Antonio Spurs won 20 consecutive games, spanning the regular season and the playoffs.
During the streak, the Clippers had a +15.2 plus-minus score differential, meaning their average margin of victory was 15.2 points. The streak included three close games (margin of victory from 1-5 points) and five blowouts (margin of victory of 20 points or more), along with another nine wins coming between these two extremes.
Let's take a closer looks at the Clippers winning streak as we go behind the numbers.
Prior to their winning steak began, the Clippers played 14 games and averaged 99.5 points per game while allowing 95.6. With a +3.9 point differential, the Clippers went 8-6 during that span.
During the streak, the Clippers increased their offensive production (scoring 104.7 points per game) while also locking down their opponents (89.5 points per game). Here are a few key factors to demonstrate how the Clippers played more effectively during the winning streak.
Increased Offensive Production
During the streak, the Clippers increased their scoring average by 5.2 points per game and their offensive rating jumped by 6.5 points, even as their pace decreased and their field goal percentage did not increase dramatically and their three point percentage actually decreased. However, the Clippers did attempt an average of 4.6 more shots during the streak than before it, a key sign of ball control and getting the most out of their offensive possessions.
How They Scored
The Clippers took far more easier shots during the streak than before it began. Their percentage of 2-point field goal attempts increased while their reliance on the three point shot slightly declined. The biggest difference to note is the points in the paint jumping by 6.5 points per game and their fast break point rising by nearly two points per game.
Setting Each Other Up
As mentioned earlier, the Clippers took much better care of the ball during their winning streak, as their turnovers dropped by over four per game. At the same time, their assists rose at nearly the same rate, which drastically improved their assist to turnover ratio. The team also displayed more teamwork and less reliance on one-on-one play to set up scoring opportunities, as their rate of assisted field goals made increased by five percent.
Turning Up The Defense
The Clippers defensive performance is more difficult to quantify. Their defensive rating improved by an impressive 4.5 points, but the Clippers forced less turnovers, blocked fewer shots, gave up slightly more fast break points and marginally increased their steal total during the streak. However, their opponents field goal percentage dropped by nearly two percentage points. These numbers would indicate an improvement in half-court defense, which is likely connected to the Clippers turning the ball over less on offense as it is much easier to set your defense when the opposing team is taking the ball out of the basket and not playing off missed shots or turnovers.