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Preview: Needing a Breather, the Clippers Get the Kings

If you’ve got to play a back-to-back, the second game might as well be against the Kings.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Picture:

The Clippers-Kings season series is 2-0 in favor of the good guys, so in fairness to their northern opponents, Doc Rivers keeps reducing his roster.

Seriously, though, the Clippers tipped the Kings in November on a late Blake Griffin jumper while missing only — “only” in air quotes — Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic. Boxing Day’s 27-point drubbing came without Blake, Gallinari, and Wes Johnson. Tonight, they’ll probably have do it without Blake, Gallinari, Milos, Austin Rivers, and now C.J. Williams, who turned his ankle in Oakland. Even the reinforcements are going down. How many hands can they tie behind their collective back?

With C.J. likely out tonight — there was no indication at the time of this writing — Doc may turn to his 200th different starting lineup (all numbers approximate). This Clippers team, man. THEY. JUST. KEEP. COMING.

The Antagonist:

Talk about adjusting the difficulty level. Last night, it was the (Curry- and Thompson-less, sure) great basketball machine of death. Tonight, it’s a team that would be fighting relegation were the NBA keen on such an idea. The Clippers can feel like one of those college football teams facing a D-II cupcake. We just faced Alabama, but thank goodness we now get Florida A&M.

Technically, the Kings aren’t last. But their point differential is. It’s the worst in the whole danged league. They’re also the worst at defense and the worst at offense. (Their pace is bottom five. They’re sucky but deliberate.) They lost to the Lakers on Tuesday, and you may have noticed that there aren’t many teams losing to the Lakers.

So, as they often are, the Kings are left holding little but a bag of hopes and dreams. De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason III, and Bogdan Bogdanovic — the better Bogdanovic — at least give them a little more than they’re accustomed to.

The Basics:

The Subplots: