The Big Picture
It’s looking like the L.A. Clippers may have come back down to earth. Following a fun six-game winning streak, the Clips have suddenly dropped each of their last three games to fall back under .500 on the season at 23-24. They’re still only a game-and-a-half back of the Nuggets for the last Western Conference playoff spot, but they’re going to have to start stringing more wins together if they want to remain relevant in the race.
This game tonight looms large. The Clippers haven’t played particularly well of late, but tonight’s clash with the Grizzlies looks like a very winnable one. While the Clips have obviously battled nonstop injuries of their own, Memphis is another team that has missed key players for the vast majority of the season.
Mike Conley has been out forever with an Achilles issue. JaMychal Green, James Ennis and Chandler Parsons are all out tonight with injuries of their own. Tyreke Evans, Jarell Martin and Ben McLemore are questionable.
In their last game, a blowout loss to the Spurs, the Grizzlies’ rotation consisted of Marc Gasol and names like Ivan Rabb, Wayne Selden, Deyonta Davis, Kobi Simmons and Myke Henry. Yeesh. This depleted roster pretty clearly has the least NBA-caliber talent of any in the league at this point.
The Clippers should beat this team, and there’s no real reason it should be close. DeAndre Jordan came back from his ankle injury to play 31 minutes against the Celtics, so LAC has quite a few more able bodies than Memphis does. Aside from the usual suspects (Austin Rivers, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari), the Clipper injury report looks fairly clean.
Two of the three teams the Clips are chasing in the playoff race are also in action tonight. The Pelicans have a tough matchup at home against the Rockets, while the Blazers are in Dallas to take on a plucky Mavs squad. Tonight could present the Clippers a golden opportunity to make up some of the ground they’ve lost in recent days.