|2015-16 NBA Regular Season|
|February 8, 2016 — 4:00 PM PDT|
|Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM|
|Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)|
|Ish Smith||PG||Chris Paul|
|Nik Stauskas||SG||J.J. Redick|
|Robert Covington||SF||Wesley Johnson|
|Nerlens Noel||PF\||Luc Richard Mbah a Moute|
|Jahlil Okafor||C||DeAndre Jordan|
|Efficiency Stats ('15-'16)|
|100 (6th)||Pace||98.2 (14th)|
|94.2 (30th)||OffRtg||106.2 (5th)|
|104.7 (19th)||DefRtg||101 (8th)|
|-10.6 (29th)||NetRtg||5.2 (5th)|
Ish Smith (ankle) playing on a minutes restriction
Joel Embiid (everything) out
Blake Griffin (hand) out
Austin Rivers (hand) out
Paul Pierce (old) out
What's new with the Clippers?
Following last Wednesday's embarrassing home loss to the lowly Timberwolves, the Clippers have been able to rebound with back-to-back wins over the Magic and Heat, respectively. Super Bowl Sunday's win in Miami was particularly impressive as the club was able to overcome a horrid offensive start (23% first quarter shooting) to win rather easily. In spite of a few costly injuries, LAC has been able to keep chugging along. The No. 3 spot in the West remains very much within reach as L.A. sits 3.5 games back of OKC heading into Monday's action.
What's new with the 76ers?
The Sixers, of course, are tanking, as they have been for the last couple of seasons. They're quite the insult to Basketballing Ben Franklin. Apparently, ownership got tired of people complaining about #TheProcess, though, and has taken a couple of steps to try and turn things around. The first domino to fall was the surprise hiring of Jerry Colangelo to effectively take GM Sam Hinkie's job. Next, they hired Mike D'Antoni to join Brett Brown's staff as an assistant. Finally, Philly sent a couple of second round picks to the Pelicans in exchange for point guard Ish Smith. Smith, who played with the 76ers last season, has helped to drag the team out of the gutter a bit. They're still terrible, but six of their seven wins on the season have come since Ish rejoined the club on Christmas Eve. Without him, they were 1-30. Philly has now won four of their last 10 games overall, which, sadly, is probably the best stretch they've enjoyed in years.
For all of their woes, this is still a team with a few intriguing youngsters on board. Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the most recent draft, has proved to be an NBA-ready offensive center from day one. He's averaging about 17 points, seven rebounds and over one block per game as a rookie while shooting over 49% from the floor. For as effective as he is on offense, though, he's about as equally as bad on defense. Okafor obviously has the size to be a competent rim protector in the league, but at 20, he's still got a long way to go.
Another young big, Nerlens Noel, has shown progress in his second season. He's upped his field goal percentage from 46% as a rookie to 53% this season, while also leading the club in rebounding (8.2), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.6). His offensive repertoire is limited, but he's made some strides with his jumper. Robert Covington possesses the rare combination of size, rebounding and three-point shooting ability that should make him a decent NBA player for quite a while. Excluding those three and Smith, though, there's not a ton with which to work on this roster.
Clippers key to victory
Considering the Sixers remain winless (0-29!) on the season against teams with winning records, the key for the Clippers in this game will be to not lose focus. As we saw last week with Minnesota, taking a bad team for granted can be dangerous. With consecutive games against Boston, San Antonio and Golden State on the horizon, the Clips need not look ahead too soon. Take care of business in Philadelphia and move on. LAC beat this team by 31 points in their first meeting of the season, so it shouldn't be too tall an order.
Matchups to watch
DeAndre Jordan vs. Jahlil Okafor, Chris Paul vs. Ish Smith
DJ had his hands full with the Sixers' prized rookie in their previous showdown, as Okafor hit 10-of-14 shots for 23 points in just 18 minutes of action. Once Okafor is able to establish position deep in the post, he's incredibly difficult to slow down. DeAndre will need to do his work early in possessions and try to keep Jah from beating him down the floor. If he can do so, then Jordan should have more success the second time around.
As for Smith, he can't shoot at all from the outside. His game is nearly completely predicated on using his quickness to get penetration and force his way into the lane. Smith is shooting under 40% from the floor in 19 games with the 76ers, and just 26% from three-point range. Obviously, CP3 knows to try and force Ish into taking jumpers. It was effective in their previous meeting, as Smith shot just 2-for-9 from the field for just four points. While Paul's shot wasn't falling in that game, either (4-for-12), he still racked-up 14 assists in only 26 easy minutes.
Shutting down the three-point line will also be crucial for LAC. The Sixers don't shoot them well (33%) as a team, but they jack over 25 of them per game, good for the 11th-most in the NBA. Nik Stauskas was billed as a shooter coming out of Michigan, but he's only connected on 32% of his triples over the course of his two seasons as a pro. However, he was 6-for-8 from deep in the last game against LAC. Allowing Smith to find his way into the paint where he can attack rotations and find open shooters is a large part of what's made him successful this season. If the Clips can shut that off, they shouldn't have much to worry about in this one.
Game day song of choice
This game is taking place in Philadelphia, so what are some good Philly-based acts? Ah...of course!
You know that one had to make the cut. We'll also feature the band The War on Drugs, because they're good at music:
The last time the 76ers beat the Clippers was way back on March 16, 2011. LAC will try and avoid the embarrassing upset starting around 4pm PT Monday afternoon.