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Clippers-Lakers Preview: Ten For Ten

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The Clippers play on back-to-back nights against the Lakers, looking for their 10th-straight win against the purple and gold.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
2015/2016 NBA Regular Season
@
Los Angeles Lakers (16-60)

Los Angeles Clippers (48-28)
April 5, 2016 — 7:30 PM PDT
STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Prime Ticket, KEIB AM 1150
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
9-21 East 22-8
7-39 West 26-20
2-12 Division 7-6
11-28 Home 26-12
5-32 Road 22-16
5-39 .500 + 19-21
11-21 - .500 29-7
1-1 OT 4-1
2-8 L10 6-4
Projected Starters
D'Angelo Russell PG Chris Paul
Jordan Clarkson SG J.J. Redick
Kobe Bryant SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Julius Randle PF Blake Griffin
Roy Hibbert C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('15-'16)
98.0 (17th of 30) Pace 98.1 (T-14th of 30)
98.9 (29th of 30) OffRtg 106.6 (6th of 30)
109.4 (30th of 30) DefRtg 101.6 (8th of 30)
-10.4 (T-30th of 30) NetRtg 5.0 (5th of 30)
Injuries/Other
Anthony Brown (foot) out
Paul Pierce (ankle) doubtful
'15-16 Season Series (Clippers lead 2-0)
Date
Venue
Final
Clips Nation Recap
NBA Box Score
12/25/2015
Lakers Home
Clippers 94, Lakers 84
Recap
Box Score
1/29/2016
Clippers Home
Clippers 105, Lakers 93
Recap
Box Score
4/5/2016
Clippers Home
Tonight


4/6/2016
Lakers Home



The Big Picture:

Blake Griffin is back, the Core Four is reunited, and the playoffs are less than two weeks away. All is well in Clipper Nation. Pretty well, at least. The fourth seed in the West is a near certainty, so the final six games represent little more than a tune-up for the second season to come. And a tune-up is needed. Griffin looked every bit of his 45-game absence, as did his chemistry with his fellow starters. There were flashes of the old cohesion, which one would expect, but there were also plays where he found himself in the way of a JJ Redick and a DeAndre Jordan who had become accustomed to playing without him. What they need is practice time, and they'll get it tonight and tomorrow against a 30th-ranked Laker defense whose level of resistance is roughly equal to that of a handful of chairs. As end-of-season games often do, these remaining contests will have a preseason flavor. Study the process more and the results less. The real games are coming.

The Antagonist:

The Lakers are losing, Kobe Bryant is retiring, and D'Angelo Russell is videotaping. All is well in Clipper Nation. (Let it be known that I will never pass up a gratuitous shot at the Lakers.) Two weeks ago, the Laker rebuild looked on track. Oodles of upcoming cap space combined with impressive recent play by 2nd-overall pick Russell to give Laker fans reason for optimism. Then the surreptitious taping happened, and if you haven't read about it yet, you can go read about it, like, anywhere. And now there are legitimate questions about Russell's future as the centerpiece of an organization whose table is suddenly looking bare again. But don't expect the Lakers to roll over. After a 48-point loss in Utah, there was talk that the team had quit. Then they beat the Heat and gave the Dub-killing Celtics a game. No win will juice the Laker fanbase like their surprise victory over the Warriors, but perhaps a win or two over their co-tenants will be a nice dessert.

The Subplots:

  • Comparison of Key Metrics. I was looking for something the Lakers didn't do poorly, and it took a while, but look! They don't really turn the ball over. The Lakers are 8th in the NBA in turnover ratio, averaging roughly half a turnover more than the typically stingy Clippers per 100 possessions. Of course, it's easier to protect the ball when you don't pass. The Lakers are 28th in assist ratio and 29th in catch-and-shoot field goal attempts.
  • Schedule. It's a double-dip against the Lakers, first on the Clipper hardwood, then on the purple-and-gold tomorrow. Maybe they'll forget to uncover the Laker banners.
  • No More Kobe. Depending on which of these two games he chooses to play, these will be Kobe's final appearances against the Clippers. Tonight will be his final game on the Clipper floor, for whatever that's worth. I'll leave the sappy farewells to other writers.
  • Numbers 10 and 11. The Clippers play for their 10th-straight victory over the Lakers tonight, and potentially number 11 tomorrow. If you're curious about such things, the Clipper franchise record for longest win streak against another opponent is 14, against the Timberwolves, a streak that ended in February.
  • Laker veterans shut down. The Lakers may have fully shifted into their preparation for next season. Both Brandon Bass and Lou Williams received DNP-CDs Sunday against Boston.
  • For the Lakers' point of view, head over to Silver Screen and Roll.
  • The rest. Larry Nance, Jr. will sit for the Lakers. That's too bad. The bouncy forward has been fun to watch... Nick Young hasn't been playing because his mind is elsewhere, naturally... ESPN's Baxter Holmes wrote about Kobe and Chris Paul's onetime plans to be teammates.