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GAME PREVIEW: Clippers Seek to Snap Two Game Losing Streak Against the Spurs in San Antonio

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The injury-ridden Clippers remained close, but were unable to pull off wins in their last two outings in Washington and Miami.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The 11-17 Los Angeles Clippers visit the 20-10 San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. The injury-ridden Clippers hope to snap a two-game losing streak, while the defensive-minded Spurs seek to extend their home game win streak to ten.

THE GAME

When: Monday, December 18, 2017 — 5:30 p.m. (PT)

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, CA

TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Radio: AM 570 L.A. Sports

PROBABLE STARTERS

Clippers: Montrezl Harrell, DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams

Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge, Bryn Forbes, Pau Gasol, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker

INJURIES

Clippers:

  • Patrick Beverley (knee) OUT
  • Danilo Gallinari (glute) OUT
  • Blake Griffin (knee) OUT

Spurs:

  • Kyle Anderson (knee) OUT
  • Danny Green (groin) QUESTIONABLE

THE BIG PICTURE

The Clippers have lost six of their last ten games and are overdue for a big road win. Despite being down multiple starters and relying heavily on the play of rookies, the Clippers are averaging a respectable 103.8 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting from the field, including 35.2 percent from beyond the arc. Of the players expected to suit up tomorrow, Lou Williams is averaging 19.9 points and 4.9 assists, Austin Rivers is averaging 14.5 points, and DeAndre Jordan is averaging 11 points and 14.9 rebounds.

Defensively, the Clippers are allowing opponents 105.9 points per game on 46 percent shooting, including 36.7 percent shooting from deep. Stats like that won’t get the wins; the Clippers need to tighten up and improve consistency on the defensive end of the floor.

Execution, particularly in close out situations is also an Achilles heel for Los Angeles. Wins were well within reach for the Clippers recently in Washington and Miami, but the squad was unable to close out. Poor officiating had a lot to do with the Clippers’ loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday, but so did the Clippers’ six fourth quarter turnovers and 28 percent 3-point shooting. If the Clippers want to defeat the Spurs, they will need to do a better job on offense, particularly down the stretch. The Spurs are one of the toughest defensive teams in the NBA.

On a positive note, the Clippers have starting point guard Milos Teodosic back, and he is making a huge difference on offense. Teodosic is comfortable directing his teammates to facilitate better spacing and flow, and is no longer hesitating to shoot the ball. In Saturday’s game against Miami, Teodosic’s fourth quarter buckets nearly single-handedly pulled off the win for Los Angeles.

For the game, Teodosic was five for 14 from the field, two for 10 from three-point range. Look for him to play increased minutes against the Spurs.

Other players to watch:

  • Austin Rivers is expected to return to play in the Spurs match-up. Rivers suffered a concussion after taking an elbow to the chops in last Wednesday’s game against the Magic, and missed the Clippers’ last two games while under the NBA’s concussion protocol. Rivers is a hustle player and scoring guard who does not shy from taking big shots. The Clippers are a better team with him on the floor.
  • Third-year player Montrezl Harrell has been on a tear, and we hope that continues. Harrell was the high man for the Clippers in Saturday’s contest with Miami, scoring 15 points in the loss. Harrell’s energy has been a big benefit to the Clippers this season, even more so than his numbers.
  • DeAndre Jordan has been stepping up his game. After a relatively slow start, Jordan is on a season-best run of four consecutive double-doubles and seven double-doubles in his last eight starts.

THE ANTAGONIST

The Spurs have always been a tough match up for the Clippers, especially in San Antonio. The Spurs have already beat the Clippers once this season, on November 7, and have a nine-game winning streak at home. The Spurs are also riding a wave of momentum; they are coming off a 98-96 come-from-behind win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, and have won 7 of their last 10 games. The Spurs are averaging 101.2 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 35.6 percent from beyond the arc. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is leading the way for San Antonio, averaging 22.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

The Spurs, like the Clippers, have been impacted by injuries. Starting guards Danny Green and Tony Parker, and forward Kawhi Leonard have all sat the bench and missed games due to injury this season. Parker and Leonard are expected to be back in the line-up against the Clippers on Monday; the amount of minutes they will see on the hardwood is unknown.

The Spurs had five players in double figures in Saturday’s game against the Mavericks: Aldridge (22); Dejounte Murray (14); Davis Bertans (13); and Bryn Forbes (11). Manu Ginobili scored 12, including a game-winning layup, along with five rebounds, and three assists. The Clippers will need to contain this multi-faceted offensive attack while finding ways to score themselves to pull off a win in Texas.

THE PREDICTION

San Antonio’s defense, experience and discipline will prove too much for the Clippers.