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Clippers-Blazers Preview: Shooting For Seven Straight

The Clippers head back to Portland to avenge a November loss and to tally a seventh-straight win.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2015/2016 NBA Regular Season
Portland Trail Blazers (15-22)

Los Angeles Clippers (22-13)
January 6, 2016 — 7:00 PM PDT
Moda Center (Portland, OR)
Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
2-9 East 9-3
13-13 West 13-10
5-3 Division 4-3
8-7 Home 11-6
7-15 Road 11-7
4-14 .500 + 6-8
11-8 - .500 16-5
0-2 OT 1-0
4-6 L10 7-3
Projected Starters
Damian Lillard PG Chris Paul
C.J. McCollum SG J.J. Redick
Al-Farouq Aminu SF Wesley Johnson
Noah Vonleh PF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Mason Plumlee C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('15-'16)
97.22 (21st of 30) Pace 98.59 (14th of 30)
102.9 (12th of 30) OffRtg 105.2 (4th of 30)
104.7 (21st of 30) DefRtg 101.3 (12th of 30)
Meyers Leonard (shoulder) probable
Blake Griffin (quad) out
'15-16 Season Series (Tied 1-1)
Clips Nation Recap
NBA Box Score
Blazers 102, Clippers 91
Box Score
Los Angeles
Clippers 102, Blazers 87
Box Score

Los Angeles

The Big Picture:

The Clippers enter tonight undefeated for 2016, having pasted the Sixers at home over the weekend in their first and so far only game of the new year. Despite Blake Griffin's notable absence, the team's play has continued its steady climb upward. The defense has been a top-5 unit since Thanksgiving. Doc Rivers is finding bench lineups that work, and they include early-season bench warmers Pablo Prigioni and Cole Aldrich. The schedule has been kind, and the Clippers have work to do to prove they can consistently compete with the best in the league, but that proof isn't likely to come tonight in Portland against an opponent better described as feisty than good. Even in the always raucous Moda Center, a place in which the Clippers lost on November 20th, a seventh consecutive victory is a good bet.

The Antagonist:

Up and down and pleasantly encouraging. That's a nice way of describing the Baby Blazers' season so far. Damian Lillard and company went oh-fer on a five-game mid-December road trip through the southeast and midwest, but their schedule lightened enough with the holidays to allow them to win four of their last six. One of those games was a 29-point drubbing of the top-contending Cavaliers, albeit a Cavaliers team playing one night after a Christmas slugfest with the Warriors. The Blazers are slowly answering their many preseason questions: Can Lillard and new starter C.J. McCollum coexist in the backcourt? Hell yes. Will any young players step up their production with an increased role? Sure, Allen Crabbe is averaging 11 points per game off the bench and scored a career-high 26 in that Cavs' beating. Can any of the Blazers' bevy of young big men help Portland fans forget LaMarcus Aldridge? Er, lets check back in on Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh, Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis a little later.

The Subplots:

  • Comparison of Key Metrics. Let's talk rebounding. Again. The Blazers are 5th in offensive rebounding rate. But, the Clippers' defensive rebounding is approaching not awful. Since December 1st, they're 22nd in the league, with a 75% defensive rebounding rate. Can they keep the bouncy Blazers off the boards?
  • Schedule. Two more full days of rest before back-to-back home matinees against the Hornets and Pelicans this weekend. What a strangely scheduled week this has been.
  • Forget about the last time. On November 20th, the Blazers bested a sloppy Clipper performance with strong backcourt play and rebounding. That Clipper team was playing much differently than the one that will take the floor tonight. Will the result be different?
  • Griffin vs. Aldridge. We'll be without both halves of what was once a nice power forward rivalry. Aldridge is in San Antonio, of course, and Griffin will be on the sidelines. That leaves us with Mbah a Moute and Noah Vonleh, a matchup I'm sure you'll all be telling your grandkids about one day.
  • Blazing backcourts. Portland's backcourt duo of Lillard and McCollum has been aces. The two young scorers are averaging a combined 45 points and 5 made threes every night. The Clippers' veteran backcourt won't give them an easy game, though. Injuries and age are keeping Chris Paul from submitting another all-time year, but he's still third among NBA point guards in PER. And JJ Redick is shooting hot fire, climbing to within spitting distance of a preposterous 50/50/90 shooting split.
  • For the Trail Blazers' point of view, head over to Blazer's Edge.
  • The rest. Saturday's 31-point win over Philadelphia was the Clippers' largest victory of the season... The LA Times wrote about Doc Rivers limiting the Clippers minutes... Jovan Buha says Paul Pierce as power forward gives the Clippers optimal spacing... The Clippers assigned Branden Dawson to the NBDL on Monday... Like listening to the Clippers on The Beast 980? Enjoy it while you can.