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Clippers – Kings Preview: Showdown Between the Shorthanded

It’s a battle of the battered as the injury-plagued Clippers and Kings face off at Staples Center Thursday night.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers (1-2) continue to be plagued by preseason injuries as they host the Sacramento Kings (1-3) at home Thursday. Here’s what to look out for during this Southern California - Northern California match-up.

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles California

When: 7:30 PM PT

How to Watch: NBATV; Fox Sports West

How to Listen: AM 570 LA Sports

Projected Starting Lineups:

Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, George Hill, Justin Jackson, Skal Labissiere,

Clippers: Jawun Evans, Wesley Johnson, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Miloš Teodosić


Kings: Bogdan Bogdanovic, De'Aaron Fox, Kosta Koufos, Zach Randolph, Garrett Temple

Clippers: Patrick Beverley (sore right knee), Sam Dekker (left oblique strain), Danilo Gallinari (sprained right foot), Austin Rivers (strained right glute) and Sindarius Thornwell (sprained right shoulder)

Things to Watch:

Clippers Curse: Injuries

The Clippers have no luck when it comes to injuries. With only two preseason games remaining, and regular season tip-off a mere week away, the Clippers are already down five players. Austin Rivers, who had just recovered from a six-week bout of mononucleosis, was injured in the Clippers’ first preseason game against the Toronto Raptors, straining his right glute. Danilo Gallinari (sprained right foot) and Dekker (left oblique strain) both sustained injuries on October 2, during the Clippers’ second game against the Raptors. Patrick Beverley (sore right knee) was injured in the Clippers’ third preseason contest, at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. Two days later, rookie guard Thornwell sprained his right shoulder during an intra-squad scrimmage.

Although none of these players’ injuries are anticipated to be long-term, the timing is horrible. Not because anyone cares about this Kings game, but rather, because the Clippers have an overhauled roster with nine new players, and really needed every game this preseason to help them gel as a team. The guard rotations have been particularly impacted by injuries, and frankly, if the Clippers’ backcourt isn’t working, neither is the frontcourt. Expect highly inconsistent play from the franchise for the remainder of the preseason and into the regular season as they continue to figure things out.

To the extent fans actually do care about this evening’s contest, here’s the good news: the Kings are as equally beat up as the Clippers. Three of their starting five – Bogdanovic, Koufos, and Randolph – are injured and unexpected to play. First round draft pick De'Aaron Fox is also out due to injury.

Committment to Defense

Sunday’s game against Portland was a clinic on how not to play defense. The Clippers allowed the Trail Blazers to score 73 first half points, creating a deficit from which they were not able to recover. Most concerning was the fact that the Blazers were able to score at will and in a multitude of ways both in and out of the paint. Teodosic, Johnson and Thornwell were slow to guard the perimeter and Griffin had challenges in the post. Suffice it to say, the Clippers’ defense as a whole was simply not functioning.

Of course, unlike Portland, who can boast one of the more potent backcourts in the league, Sacramento is not known to be an offensive juggernaut. In fact, the Kings shot only 30% from the field in their last outing, and are averaging only 87.8 points per game in four games this preseason. The Clippers will be without two-time NBA All-Defensive Team player Beverley for Thursday’s contest, and must commit to playing strong team defense and find a way to get stops.

Offensive Output from Teodosic

Rookie point guard Milos Teodosic had a breakout game for the Clippers on Sunday, contributing 15 points on 41.7 percent shooting, and draining four of his seven three-point attempts. Teodosic must continue to look for his shots, in addition to facilitating offense from Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, if the Clippers are to have any significant success this season.

In the grand scheme of things, this Kings game means very little. Its preseason, and key players for both teams will be absent from the court. Nonetheless, the Clippers should use this game as an opportunity to test those players who are available, to get a sense of their chemistry and respective skill sets.