Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
When: 7:30 PM PT
How to watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 Radio
Projected Starting Lineups:
Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Avery Bradley – Tobias Harris – Danilo Gallinari – Marcin Gortat
Kings: De’Aaron Fox - Buddy Hield - Iman Shumpert - Nemanja Bjelica - Willie Cauley-Stein
Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute Out (knee)
Kings: Marvin Bagley Out (knee)
The Big Picture:
The Kings, with their 18-15 record, are over-performing expectations. Led by Fox, who is averaging 18.1 points and 7.5 assists per game, the Kings are averaging 115.1 points per game, which is good for 5th in the league. This figure is certainly a product of their 105.17 pace (second in the league) and league leading 22.3 fast break points per game. Fox, one of the fastest players in the league, is at times a one-man fast break, but he’s been getting help from Buddy Hield, who is having a career year.
The Clippers, therefore, will need to control the pace of the game and contain the Kings’ backcourt. Luckily for the Clippers, who are liable to have terrible rebounding games, the Kings are even less proficient on the boards. The “Clamp City” (typed with some sarcasm) Bradley-Beverley duo will need to stay out of foul trouble and allow Gilgeous-Alexander to run the offense so he can make Fox work on the defensive end.
Christmas sucks the energy out of teams — and perhaps even more out of the teams who have the day off. This might leave the Clippers a step slow, which one can’t happen against the speedy Kings. The Clippers’ game against the Warriors in Oakland likely took a lot out of them, which adds to the holiday lull.
If recent history is any indication, Doc will overplay Avery Bradley. Clips Nation has been tough on Bradley because the data just does not support the amount of minutes he has been getting. But on a style-of-play level, we know that Bradley plays his assignment super tight, forcing the opposing player to play downhill (for example, how he defended Luka Doncic). If Fox is forced, by Bradley or Beverly, to play down hill — which he prefers anyways — we might see him drive and dish to Hield all game long.
- The Clippers beat the Kings in late November 133-121. The game was close all of the way through, until the Clips pulled away in the middle of the fourth quarter. Harris led the way with 28 points.
- The Kings have a 1.8 assist/turnover ratio, which is tied for 6th best in the league. The Clippers are at 19th with 1.51.
- In their last match up, the Clippers’ bench, across the board, had a negative +/-. The Kings’ bench was less bad, but not good enough to make up for their starters. Bagley had 18 points, but it looks like he won’t be playing this time around.