Clippers 2021-22 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals, Monday, June 28, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers took strides in the second year of the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George pairing, reaching the Western Conference Finals last season, where they lost in six games. With Leonard missing the entirety of that series with a partially torn ACL, however, the loss was easier to swallow. 

The Clippers come into the third year of the Kawhi-PG13 era with high expectations but questions left to answer. Most pressing: When will Leonard be recovered from his knee injury and able to play again? 

When healthy, the Clippers are on the shortlist of title contenders in the 2021-22 season. Even without Leonard, the expectation will be a playoff berth. But their ceiling is only so high until he returns. 

Let's take a look at the schedule the team will face as they look to survive their top player's injury absence. 


Schedule Details

Season Opener: at Golden State Warriors, Oct. 21 at 10 p.m. ET

Championship Odds: +2000, per FanDuel

Full Schedule: NBA.com


Top Matchups

Los Angeles Lakers (First matchup: Dec. 3)

The L.A. bragging rights will be up for grabs yet again this season. Two years ago, it was LeBron James and Anthony Davis hoisting the title. Last year, however, the Clippers advanced further than their City of Angels rivals. 

While the Clippers will have a familiar look in the 2021-22 season, the Lakers are basically a completely rebuilt team around King James and AD. So many questions persist: Can the ball-dominant Russell Westbrook find a way to fit with the team's other stars? Who on this team defends on the perimeter? Are the Lakers going to roll with Dwight Howard and Marc Gasol as the centers, or will AD play the 5 on a more regular basis? 

The Lakers have a ton of talent, and a ton of questions about whether it will all fit seamlessly together. We know this Clippers team has complementary talent. These games, even if Leonard misses them, are going to be fun.


Phoenix Suns (First matchup: Dec. 13)

The Clippers will hope to exact some revenge against a Suns team that ended their season. 

Like the Clippers, the Suns will largely be the same team that reached the NBA Finals last year, led by Chris Paul, Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and a fantastic, young and versatile supporting cast. 

A Suns vs. Clippers Western Conference Finals would have been fascinating. Might it have gone differently with Leonard healthy?

Regular-season matchups between these teams won't answer that question. But you can bet the Clippers will have a bit of extra juice for the Suns. 


Season Forecast

The Clippers will largely run it back in the 2021-22 campaign.

Leonard, Reggie Jackson and Nic Batum all re-signed. Serge Ibaka opted in to his player option. The rest of the core from last season—George, Patrick Beverley, Luke Kennard, Rajon Rondo, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr. and Terence Mann—all return. The only major incoming moves were signing Justise Winslow and drafting Keon Johnson, Jason Preston and Brandon Boston Jr.. 

This is a deep team, even if Leonard's injury hangs over the season. The Clippers went 4-4 in the playoffs without Leonard against two of the better teams in the NBA, the Utah Jazz and the Suns. 

But so much of how this team navigates Leonard's absence will come down to the role players. 

And of course, George will need to play like a superstar. He went a long way toward redeeming his disappointing showing in the 2019-20 bubble playoffs with an excellent postseason last year (26.9 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.0 SPG). 

The Clippers aren't going to be one of the top seeds in a tough Western Conference this year. Healthier squads like the Los Angeles Lakers, Suns, Jazz, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks will be gunning for the top spot. But this Clippers team still has enough talent to make the postseason and do so while avoiding the play-in tournament. 


Record Prediction: 48-34


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