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Clippers-Bucks Preview: Home For A Day

The Clippers return to STAPLES Center for a one-game homestand with a chance to sweep the Bucks.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
2015-16 NBA Regular Season
Milwaukee Bucks (10-16)

Los Angeles Clippers (15-10)
December 16, 2015 — 7:30 PM PDT
STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, CA
Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
10-16 Record 15-10
7-11 East 5-3
3-5 West 10-7
2-3 Division 3-3
8-5 Home 9-5
2-11 Road 6-5
3-10 .500+ 5-6
7-6 .500– 10-4
1-0 OT 1-0
4-6 L10 8-2
Projected Starters
O.J. Mayo PG Chris Paul
Khris Middleton SG J.J. Redick
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Jabari Parker PF Blake Griffin
John Henson C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('15-'16)
95.7 (T-27th) Pace 99.0 (13th)
99.1 (25th) OffRtg 103.7 (T-6th)
104.7 (26th) DefRtg 100.9 (T-13th)
-5.6 (26th) NetRtg 2.8 (10th)
Injury Report
Greg Monroe (knee) questionable
Greivis Vasquez (ankle) out
Jerryd Bayless (ankle) out
'15-16' Season Series (Clippers lead Bucks, 1-0)
Clips Nation Recap
NBA Box Score
Clippers 109, Bucks 95
Box Score
Los Angeles

The Big Picture:

The Clippers are coming off a 4-1 road trip, and there's both good and bad to be taken from the results. Obviously, it's good that they won 80% of the trip, putting some real room between themselves and .500. At the very least, they're looking like a solid mid-conference contender. It's also good to have JJ Redick back and cooking, as his shooting and movement were key to lubricating an offense that stops and locks up more than it should. As for the bad, it's not terribly bad, but this team has flaws to be picked at that rate more seriously than nits. The defense has improved, but still suffers from the occasional inexplicable meltdown. Doc's preferred rotation is still questionable, and one wonders whether Lance Stephenson will continue to toe the team line as he tallies DNP-CDs. All in all though, it's still early, the Clippers are pretty good, and it's good to come home and get a game with a Bucks team they just downed one week ago.

The Antagonist:

From the penthouse to the basement. What do you make of this Milwaukee team that snapped the almighty Warriors' historic win streak on Saturday night, only to be smoked by a pathetic tanking Lakers squad last night? (It should be noted that starting center Greg Monroe was a late scratch.) At least the Bucks didn't have to travel far. They got to spend another night in Los Angeles, and to pay for it they'll have to take on a Clipper team that pulled away from them just one week ago, and they'll do it on short rest. Hope you stayed in last night, Bucks. You're painfully close to being a bottom-5 team. You'll have needed that sleep.

The Subplots:

  • Comparison of Key Metrics. Ah, the challenges of fielding a young team. The Bucks are unselfish, ranking in the NBA's top-5 in assist %. Alas, they are also top-5 in turnover ratio. The Clippers are the league's second-most protective team by turnover ratio. The Clippers should earn themselves a few extra possessions tonight.
  • Schedule. A one-game pit stop at home. Back-to-back games in San Antonio and Houston beginning Friday. Home against the Thunder next Monday. Where are you, Christmas?
  • On the road to home. Yesterday, Doc Rivers told the LA Times that "this is as tough of a home game as we've had in a long time." The Clippers returned home from Detroit for just one game before they head back to the central timezone for two games in Texas later this week. The article states that Doc even lobbied the NBA last summer to move tonight's game to Milwaukee to ease his team's traveling schedule. No dice, apparently.
  • As the clock turns. These Clippers get progressively worse by the quarter. Their net ratings for the season, by quarter, with NBA ranking, are: 1st Q (+6.9, 4th), 2nd Q (+4.1, 8th), 3rd Q (+1.6, 15th), 4th Q (-2.2, 20th). For added context, the Clippers have ranked in the top-5 in 4th-quarter net rating for each of the last three seasons.
  • Threes in the third. In last week's decisive third quarter in Milwaukee, the Clippers nailed 6 of 8 from deep. Led by JJ Redick's 6-for-9, the Clippers hit 42.9% from deep for one of their best shooting efforts of the season. They are a jump-shooting team that has been off to a cool start, but performances like that will do a lot to give juice to what has so far been the least efficient offensive team of the Chris Paul era.
  • Blake's boards. Blake reeled in a season-high 14 rebounds in last week's game against the Bucks. He wasn't just stealing them from DeAndre either, because the Clippers' center pulled down 19 himself. Blake clearly benefited from spending a lot of the game matched up against the perimeter-oriented Jabari Parker (5.0 rebounds/game for his career). Something to watch again, especially if noted rebound-eater Greg Monroe is absent.
  • For the Bucks' point of view, head over to Brew Hoop.
  • The rest. Is Blake shooting more long two-pointers? Heck yes. He's averaging 9 shots per game between 15-24 feet... The Clippers' defensive rating over their five-game road trip was a stingy 97.3. Real improvement or soft schedule?... Is tonight's small forward pairing the longest named matchup in sports history? That's 40 letters at the 3.