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Game Preview: Clippers Face Blazers on the Road

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The LA Clippers and the Trail Blazers square off in Portland, each looking to extend a two-game win streak.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Where: Moda Center - Portland, OR

When: 7:00 p.m. PST

How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket

How to Listen: AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups

LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Boban Marjanovic

Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jake Layman, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jusuf Nurkic

Injuries

Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute (Knee) - Out, Avery Bradley (Ankle) - Out

Blazers: Maurice Harkless (Knee) - Out

The Big Picture

The Clippers have started the season 6-4, a bit better than most projections had them through their first 10 games entering the season. What’s most impressive, however, has been their overall impact in matchups thus far. In the entire NBA, the Clippers currently rank 6th in Offensive Rating, 10th in Defensive Rating, 7th in Net Rating, 9th in Pace, 9th in Rebound Percentage, 8th in Effective Field Goal Percentage (53.3%), 4th in True Shooting Percentage (58.6%), 2nd in 3 Point Field Goal Percentage (39.8%), and 1st in Free Throws Attempted per game (29.5). Despite the relatively small sample size, it is very encouraging to see the Clippers ranking top-10 in a wide variety of very important categories.

The Antagonist

Through their first 11 games of the season, the Blazers are 8-3, placing them 3rd in the Western Conference. Other than the Milwaukee Bucks, the Blazers are the only team in the NBA currently ranking top-5 in both Offensive Rating (3rd) and Defensive Rating (5th). They are also the 2nd-best rebounding team in the league, averaging 51.8 boards per game. Led by guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, one of the most formidable duos in the NBA today, the Blazers are outscoring opponents by an average of roughly 10 points per game. They may find some difficulty sustaining their current quality of production, particularly due to the overall inconsistency from their roster. Outside of Lillard, McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Evan Turner, and Zach Collins, it remains to be seen who else can provide some stability going forward. The Blazers, however, have continued to find ways to win on a night-to-night basis.

Notes

  • Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari have been the driving forces behind the Clippers’ offense, combining for 41.3 points and 14.2 rebounds per game this season. The stability provided by Harris and Gallinari have been crucial in the Clippers’ success thus far, and tonight should present a great opportunity for them to shine. Expect the Blazers to have a difficult time finding ways to stop the front court duo without getting themselves into foul trouble, perhaps even early in the game.
  • The Clippers have some great defensive potential in their guard rotation, but the absence of Avery Bradley significantly hurts them in a game such as this, where the ability to place early pressure on ball-dominant guards, Lillard and McCollum, is crucial. Patrick Beverley will certainly be a factor at the defensive end, but expect Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Williams, and Milos Teodosic (especially Milos) to have a tough time keeping the Blazers’ backcourt at bay. Tonight could be an excellent opportunity to give Tyrone Wallace some needed minutes.
  • The battle of the bigs in tonight’s matchup is primed to be both entertaining and possibly-testy. Nurkic is far craftier and capable than he gets credit for, and watching him against the towering presence of Boban Marjanovic will be an absolute delight (though foul trouble could become an issue early for Boban). Montrezl Harrell and Zach Collins are both gritty and high-energy forces in the paint, further contributing to the potential for a physically-demanding night in the front court.

Be sure to check out the Blazers perspective over at Blazer’s Edge.