'It's a feeling': Why Kawhi Leonard believes the Clippers could be great
Published in Basketball
Every strong team Kawhi Leonard has been part of has met his same, personal criteria.
It's not defensive rating.
It's not assist-to-turnover ratio.
It's not quantifiable at all.
"It's a feeling when you know you have a great team," the Clippers' star wing said Sunday. "It's not always [leading] to a championship, it's just about you knowing that everybody's on the same page. It's just a continuous motion. It's hard to explain.
"Yeah, there's something special. You got to feel it, and then you'll know."
Do these Clippers, who played so unevenly through the season's first half, rebuilt the roster at the trade deadline only one month ago and have struggled mightily to win without Leonard, meet that criteria?
Inside the Clippers' locker room Sunday night in Portland following a victory over the Trail Blazers, a fifth win in their past six games to move within a half-game of fourth place in the Western Conference standings, there was a feeling — of cautious optimism.
"I think we were starting to jell a little bit more, like I said, just experience playing with each other," Leonard said ahead of home games against eighth-place Oklahoma City (35-36) on Tuesday and Thursday. "You get new guys coming in, there's different colors you're seeing, different coaches' voices, different schemes, it's totally different, different city.
"So I think once those guys settled in and was able to see what we're doing I think things started to change, but we still got to get better. It's a lot of things, a lot of mistakes that we're making at times but we just got to clean that up a little bit and see if we can just keep making leaps."
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