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Preview: Clippers Hope Beverley Stops the Knicks and the Streak

The Clippers get their starting point guard back. Will it be enough?

NBA: New York Knicks at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Picture:

If you’ve been a fan of the Clippers since before the Blake Griffin-Chris Paul transformation, then this is like old times. If you’re a more recent fan, welcome to the club! You now know what it’s like to root for a bad basketball team. Or, at least, a team capable of very bad basketball for a very long stretch.

The Clippers have been missing three starters, and while no one can reasonably say that they’re surprised to see Danilo Gallinari’s breaking body on the sideline, the team can be excused for playing short of its potential. (DeAndre Jordan gets no such sympathy.) But facts are facts and the franchise is experiencing its first 8-game losing streak since Blake Griffin’s rookie-season-that-wasn’t (2009-10).

Fortunately, hope abounds. Patrick Beverley is expected to play tonight, and while he can’t buttress the flagging defense all by himself, you can bet that he’ll try. And the offense hasn’t really been the problem. So if Beverley can give this team (and DeAndre) the kick in the pants it deserves, a return to respectability may be near.

The Antagonist:

Hey, the Knicks aren’t so bad. They finished last season 31-51, traded Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott — which may be a wash, sure — but have managed a respectable mark of 8-7. Some of that credit goes to a home-heavy early schedule. Most of that credit goes to Kristaps Porzingis.

Porzingis is now a fully-realized destroyer of worlds. The (approximately) 10-foot tall Latvian-born 22-year-old is averaging 27.8 points with 2.3 blocks and a shiny 48/42/82 shooting slash-line. He survived offseason trade rumors, the most exciting thing to happen to New York since Hamilton. The Knicks’ defense is still a horror show, but with Porzingis and a Kanter-fueled #1 rating in offensive rebounding, the offense has been productive enough to keep the team competitive. Just ignore the guard situation.

The Basics:

The Subplots: