When: 7:30pm PST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
How to Watch: TNT
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: (G) Milos Teodosic, (G) Austin Rivers, (F) Wesley Johnson, (F) Tobias Harris, (C) DeAndre Jordan
Bucks: (G) Eric Bledsoe, (G) Jason Terry, (F) Khris Middleton, (F) Giannis Antetokounmpo, (C) John Henson
Clippers: Danilo Gallinari (hand), Avery Bradley (groin), Patrick Beverley (knee)
Bucks: Matthew Dellavedova (ankle), Malcolm Brogdon (quadriceps)
The Big Picture
The LA Clippers have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, and are just 2 games out of 8th place in the Western Conference standings, with only 9 remaining. With the exception of the Minnesota Timberwolves, every team in the West, seeds 1-10, have won at least half of their games over their most recent 10-game stretch. The West has stayed hot, and with one of the most difficult stretches remaining, the Clippers will need to fight very hard to keep their postseason hopes alive.
The Bucks enter the night with a 39-34 record, the same as the Clippers. And like the Clippers, they’ve gone 5-5 over their last 10 games, though their postseason hopes are a near-lock at this point. The Bucks are currently 7th place in the Eastern Conference standings, and are most likely to end up anywhere 6-8, with a mere game-and-a-half separating the 3 spots. Led by All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is progressively dominating the game in unconventional ways at just 23 years of age, this young and lengthy group will fight just as hard as their counterparts because it could end up meaning the difference between facing the 1st place Toronto Raptors, the injury-riddled Boston Celtics, and the LeBron-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the Playoffs.
Battle of the Boards
The last time these two teams met was less than a week ago, with the Clippers pulling away, 127-120. Perhaps the biggest factor in the Clippers’ victory was rebounding. That night, the Clippers out-rebounded the Bucks 53-41, with the Bucks giving up 16 offensive rebounds; these figures fell relatively in line with the season numbers. The Milwaukee Bucks, despite their collective height and wingspan, rank dead-last in the NBA in total rebounds per game, ranking second-to-last in both offensive and defensive rebounding. The Clippers, comparatively, rank 14th in all rebounding categories; not stellar, but a significant advantage in a matchup such as this. The Clippers rank 3rd in the league in second-chance points, while the Bucks rank 24th, illustrating great opportunities for guys like DeAndre Jordan and Montrezl Harrell to do some damage inside. That the Clippers are 2nd in the league in personal fouls drawn per game, versus the Bucks at 17th, further bolsters the case for doing some extra work on the glass.
In the 8 games following tonight’s matchup, the Clippers will face the: Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Los Angeles Lakers. 3 of those games are on the road, only 2 are against teams with losing records, and tonight’s matchup is the first night of a back-to-back pairing. It’s not an easy schedule to close the year, but the team will welcome the returns of Tyrone Wallace and C.J. Williams back into the fold; they are proven difference-makers in games that may very well determine the fate of the Clippers’ postseason aspirations.