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Clippers vs. Spurs Preview: Tired Western Conference Teams Clash for Third Time

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The Clippers will take on the Spurs tonight in the 3rd game in 4 nights for both teams

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information:

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

When: 7:30 PM PT

How to watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups:

Spurs: Derrick WhiteBryn ForbesDeMar DeRozanRudy GayLaMarcus Aldridge

Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderAvery BradleyTobias HarrisDanilo GallinariMarcin Gortat

Injuries:

Spurs: Dejounte Murray Out (knee)

Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute Out (knee)

The Big Picture:

The Clippers have won four of five games, and their offense has surged back into the top 5 behind the scoring and playmaking of Lou Williams. Even when their starters mostly had a rough night, Lou, Gallinari, and the hustle of the Clippers’ bench was able to turn the tide against the Lakers. The Clippers’ depth has been a blessing and a curse this year (though far more of a blessing): they have many players who need minutes, and can provide positive play, but it’s difficult for Doc to determine who should get minutes on any given night. Nonetheless, the Clippers have righted a ship that seemed like it was taking on a ton of water in early December, and are just a couple games back of 1st place once more.

The Antagonist:

The Spurs just keep chugging along. Despite some early season woes, the Spurs are back over .500, and are right in the mix of the Western Conference playoff battle royale. While the Spurs have a variety of contributors, they are powered by the midrange-loving duo of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Both players are capable of scoring 30+ points in any given game, and each has been a long-time torturer of the Clippers. The Spurs don’t take many threes or shots in the paint, but are excellent at shooting all over the court, as they’re able to work their way into open shots through execution. Their talent isn’t as great as it was a few years ago, but the Spurs under Popovich will always be a dangerous opponent.

Notes:

  • Both teams tired: The Clippers and Spurs will both be on the second night of a back to back, and playing their third game in four nights. The Spurs should be a bit more tired, because they had to travel last night while the Clippers played in LA, but both teams are probably going to be sloppy. Expect tired legs on jump shots, slow rotations on defense, and just generally lower-quality basketball tonight. Pop and Doc might also dig a bit deeper into their benches if starters look tired or out of sorts – maybe we will finally get that Johnathan Motley debut game.
  • Revenge game for Clips: The last time the Clippers played the Spurs, they were right in the midst of their down stretch, and had probably their worst game of the season, losing by 38 points in San Antonio. Rest assured that the Clippers have not forgotten that performance, and have been waiting for a chance to return the favor. Even if they’re tired, and perhaps not at their sharpest, I’d expect them to come out hungry and vengeful tonight.
  • Stopping LMA: LaMarcus Aldridge was virtually unstoppable in that contest a couple weeks ago, scoring 27 points on 12-14 shooting, and mercilessly torching whatever the Clippers threw at him. He’s a great player, but the Clippers need to find a way to slow him down, or they’re going to be in trouble once more. I think soft double teams (or random ones) plus switching up defenders could help. Motley actually theoretically matches up well with LMA, but throwing him straight from the G-League into the path of Aldridge is asking a lot. Still, I’d be interested in seeing him get a shot guarding the Spurs’ big man.

Check out the Spurs’ perspective over at Pounding the Rock, and look out for the game thread tonight!