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Preview: Clippers out for revenge vs. Celtics

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Following a tough overtime loss the last time they met the Celtics, the Clippers will be looking for payback against Brad Stevens and his defensive-minded cast of characters.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 NBA Regular Season
vs
Boston Celtics (43-30)

Los Angeles Clippers (45-27)
March 28, 2016 — 7:30 PM PT
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California
Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
43-30 Record 45-27
29-19 East 20-8
14-11 West 25-19
10-6 Division 7-6
25-12 Home 24-12
18-18 Road 21-15
16-18 .500+ 22-18
27-12 .500– 30-9
1-2 OT 4-1
5-5 L10 4-6
Projected Starters
Isaiah Thomas PG Chris Paul
Avery Bradley SG J.J. Redick
Evan Turner SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Amir Johnson PF Paul Pierce
Jared Sullinger C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('14-'15)
101.1 (3rd) Pace 98.3 (14th)
103.9 (12th) OffRtg 106.0 (6th)
100.4 (4th) DefRtg 101.6 (7th)
3.5 (8th) NetRtg 4.4 (6th)
Injury Report

Jae Crowder (Ankle) Out

Blake Griffin (Suspension) Out

What's new with the Clippers?

Following a rough road trip during which they went just 1-4, the Clippers have come back home to L.A. and won consecutive games over the Trail Blazers and Nuggets. Here's hoping these next three games (Celtics, Timberwolves, Thunder) are the last games they'll have to play without a fully healthy Blake Griffin this season.

The Clips have clinched a playoff berth and, barring a collapse combined with a late push from whatever's left of the Grizzlies, are seemingly locked into the No. 4 playoff spot in the West. That'll mean a likely first round date with Memphis, who is missing Marc Gasol for the year (playoff included) and Mike Conley for at least the remainder of the regular season. That should (SHOULD) give LAC the easiest on-paper matchup of any of the conference's top four seeds. As we've seen time and time again this season, though, nothing ever really comes easy for this club.

What's new with the Celtics?

Boston (4th in the East) was lucky to escape Phoenix with a win on Saturday night. The Celts nearly blew a 21-point lead, but managed to stave off a furious Suns rally and eke out a three-point win. They're in the midst of a five-game road swing that'll take them through Los Angeles, Oakland and Portland for the first and only time all season.

The Celtics don't have as cushy a position in the standings as the Clippers do. Heading into Monday's action, Boston sits just 0.5 games back of Atlanta for the No. 3 seed. However, they're also only one game ahead of sixth-seeded Charlotte. Four teams within a game-and-a-half of one another should make for quite the wacky finish. We're almost assured of Boston, Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami all playing each other in the first round, we just don't yet know what the combination will be.

Matchup to watch

Chris Paul vs. Isaiah Thomas

These two teams played one of the best games of the season just ahead of the All-Star break. It was a thrilling 139-134 win for Boston during which Chris Paul and Isaiah Thomas went mano a mano. CP3 finished with 35 points and 13 assists in a losing effort, while Thomas led Boston to victory with his 36 points and 11 dimes. Considering it was the final game ahead of a lengthy layoff, Doc Rivers decided he could ride Chris Paul for the last 29 consecutive minutes of the game. They wouldn't have been able to get to overtime without him, but Chris was clearly out of gas by the time the extra session rolled around.

Assuming Doc doesn't try to rest some guys on the second half of a back-to-back, CP3 vs. IT4 Part II should be a ton of fun to watch. We know Paul isn't one to forget things, so he should come into this game thirsty for some revenge. The undersized Thomas has turned himself into an All-Star thanks in large part to having a perpetual chip on his shoulder. He's not one to back down from any matchup, either, which should help make for some quality basketball viewing in this one.

Battle of the bench

Sunday's win over Denver was one of those seemingly rare games in which the Clips' bench had something rolling offensively. The reserves contributed 56 points on the afternoon, with Jamal Crawford, Jeff Green and Wesley Johnson combining for 40.

LAC will need another strong showing from its non-starters tonight as the Celtics boast one of the league's deeper reserve units. Brad Stevens has a hodgepodge of talent at his disposal, though his primary bench scorer, Evan Turner, will likely get a start with Jae Crowder not expected to play. Big man Kelly Olynyk left the last game against the Clippers after just 11 minutes with a shoulder injury, but his combination of size (7'0") and ability to stretch the floor creates a tough matchup. Turner and Marcus Smart combined to score 31 points in the aforementioned OT affair with LAC.

Game day song of choice

The Lemonheads are from Boston. You know, that band that covered that song once?

Oh, right! The Lemonheads!

The Celtics and Clippers tip things off at Staples Center around 7:30 pm PT tonight.