Three takeaways from the Clippers four-game road trip

The Clippers will be at home to start a three-game homestead but here are 3 takeaways from their recent road trip.

The Clippers finished their four-game road trip, going 3-1 after suffering 109-95 loss against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. 

Los Angeles returns with a 1 1/2-game lead in the fourth spot in the Western Conference playoffs but only three games out of being bumped to the play-in portion.

Star forward Kawhi Leonard dealing with a sore knee, which sent him home before the matchup with the Kings. There is a lot of uncertainty on how this season will finish for a team with championship aspirations.

The Clippers will be at home tonight to start a three-game homestead but here are three things to remember from their latest road trip:

Unhealthy Leonard means an early demise

Even with the big names on this roster (Paul George, James Harden and Russell Westbrook), Kawhi Leonard is clearly the best and most important player.

During the three wins on the trip, Leonard averaged 23 points, 8.3 rebounds 3.3 assists, 2 steals and 1.3 blocks. Not only did Leonard stuff the stat sheets in those wins, but he made big shots late against the Sixers and Magic.

Leonard has been the Clippers’ most reliable player for the Clippers on a nightly basis this season after dealing with injuries the past few years. If Leonard isn’t healthy for the playoffs, the Clippers could be looking at a shorter playoff run than expected after the Harden trade early this season.

George has to play all-star level

George has had a solid season but will have to step up in the playoffs. If Leonard is going to have issues with his knee going forward, George will have to become the clear best player.

He showed he has this ability with performances like Sunday, when he scored 41 points against the Hornets but followed that up with 18 points on 41.5 percent field-goal shooting.

A more consistent George will be needed with a healthy or injured Kawhi if this team wants to be a true title contender. George might impact the game on offense and defense with a potential matchup with Luka Doncic or Brandon Ingram in a potential first-round series.

Harden must get his groove back

In their last nine games, James Harden has averaged 11. 7 points on 36.3 percent shooting from the field and 27.8 percent from three. He has averaged 10 assists during that stretch, but the Clippers need more from their former all-star guard.

Harden is now averaging 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 8.5 assists for the season. He has scored less than 10 points in his past two games.

With a injured Leonard, Harden has to be as close to the guy he was during his days in Houston. He was outplayed by backup point guard Russell Westbrook during the road trip and has some of Clipper Nation wondering whats going on.

With a history of flailing in the playoffs, let’s see if Harden can step up in possibly his best and last chance to win an NBA championship.