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Clippers vs. Maccabi Haifa Preview: LA looks to finish the preseason undefeated

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The Clippers have one last preseason game against Israel’s Maccabi Haifa to help make their final roster decisions for the regular season.

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Game Information:

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

When: 7:30 p.m. PST

How to watch: TBD

Projected Starting Lineups:

Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat

Maccabi Haifa: Willy Workman, Samme Givens, Scott Machado, Daniel Koperberg, Keron Deshields

Injuries:

Luc Mbah a Moute (right calf injury) - has not played in last three preseason games
Ty Wallace (sore left hip) - missed Tuesday’s game against Denver

The Big Picture:

The Clippers have been comfortably better than their competition in the preseason, including a couple of commanding wins, which is impressive for a team that returned 60 percent of its minutes from last season (25th in the league, per NBA.com’s John Schuhmann). No team will ever admit to caring about victories in the preseason, but nobody ever wants to lose, either, and the Clippers are one of only two teams in the league who are undefeated at this point. The other team is the Utah Jazz.

The Antagonist:

Maccabi Haifa is likely the easiest opponent the Clippers have faced thus far. On Tuesday, Haifa played the Sacramento Kings, not exactly world-beaters in the Western Conference, and got waxed by 32 points. Maccabi surrendered 132 points on 53 percent shooting from the field, including 13-of-29 from three. Again, this was against Sacramento.

There are a few familiar faces on Maccabi Haifa, especially for fans of NCAA basketball. Josh Childress played in the NBA for seven seasons, most notably for the Atlanta Hawks, in between overseas stops. Scott Machado had a cup of coffee with the Houston Rockets after being one of college basketball’s best point guards at Iona. And Kennedy Meeks won a national title at North Carolina before spending a year in the G League for Raptors 905.

What to watch for:

The Clippers should be able to secure another victory to end the preseason at 5-0. They have a roster overflowing with NBA talent, while Haifa has two players who have even appeared in an NBA game.

The more pressing concern is the team’s roster crunch. As has been repeated ad nauseam, the Clippers have 16 players on guaranteed contracts, plus Pat Beverley, and can only have 15 by the start of the regular season. Tonight’s contest against Maccabi Haifa represents the last game action Doc Rivers and the front office have to evaluate their roster before making final cuts, so expect everyone outside the top seven and Jerome Robinson to play as if their NBA future depends on it. Rivers has said that he plans to play all of his healthy players, meaning 17 Clippers should see the floor, including Ángel Delgado and Johnathan Motley.

Tobias Harris will have another chance to assert himself as the team’s ostensible leader heading into the regular season. He leads the Clippers in minutes played per game during the preseason (26.0) as well as points (20.3) and rebounds (8.3). More surprisingly, he is also second on the team in assists per game (3.7) behind Beverley.

The Clippers are probably out of surprises as the preseason comes to a close. Everyone has played, Rivers has thrown out all sorts of rotation combinations, and the decisions left to be made really only matter on the margins. The Clippers are almost ready to go—buckle up, this is the last time LA will be playing meaningless basketball for a long while.