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Clippers vs. Sydney Kings Preview: Say Aloha to the NBA season

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The Clippers open the 2018-19 preseason in Hawaii against Australia’s Sydney Kings.

Los Angeles Clippers Media Day

Game Information:

Where: The Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

When: 6:30 p.m. PST

How to watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Projected Starting Lineups:

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

Kings: We’ll figure it out at tip-off.

Injuries:

Milos Teodosic (hamstring) - he was held out of practice Thursday and Friday

The Big Picture:

The Clippers’ first preseason game takes place in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the Clippers have been holding training camp since Tuesday. They’ll take on the Sydney Kings, a member of Australia’s National Basketball League, so the level of competition will be low, even for NBA preseason standards. Even though LA should comfortably win this matchup, the purpose of today’s game isn’t necessarily competition—it’s to help the Clippers assess what they have on their roster.

The Antagonist:

The Sydney Kings are an enjoyable foe for the Clippers to begin the season. For starters, their purple-and-gold color scheme is modeled after the Los Angeles Lakers, creating an immediate sense of conflict with the Clippers. More importantly, the Kings aren’t exactly the most successful Australian franchise. They disbanded in 2008 after 20 years of existence, only to re-establish two years later with a new owner. The Kings have only made the playoffs in the NBL once since rejoining the league.

Nonetheless, the Kings have some famous names that will be recognizable to LA fans. Andrew Bogut, NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors, joined Sydney after retiring in the USA. Brian Bowen, a McDonald’s All-American in 2017, is playing for the Kings after a recruiting violation prevented him from suiting up for the Louisville Cardinals last year. And a couple of Pac-12 alumni, including Cal’s Jerome Randle and UCLA’s David Wear (also a Long Beach native whose twin brother Travis plays for the Lakers), also play for Sydney.

What to watch for:

All of the above is just a fancy way of saying that the Clippers won’t really have to worry about their opponent and can focus on some important questions they have to answer heading into this season.

One of those questions is who the Clippers should carry on their roster. The predominant theme over training camp has been how competitive the team is, and how tough their workouts have been, which is a necessary evil of the roster construction—of the 17 players under contract, two will have to be cut (or traded) before the season starts.

The starting lineup (mentioned above) appears fairly set. Head coach Doc Rivers won’t commit to a starting five, but that unit has been playing together in training camp. The second five that they have been scrimmaging against (per Jovan Buha of The Athletic) includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Williams, Sindarius Thornwell, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Boban Marjanovic. According to Buha, a third squad of Tyrone Wallace, Jerome Robinson, Wes Johnson, Mike Scott, and Montrezl Harrell also suited up. That would leave Teodosic and Jawun Evans on the outs. Teodosic is still battling a hamstring injury, so his standing may not be as precarious as Evans. The Clippers also fully guaranteed the Serbian point guard’s contract back in July.

The Clippers have talked a lot about how they want to be one of the NBA’s premier defensive teams. Although that will be hard to judge against an inferior team like the Sydney Kings, a poor defensive showing would not be a promising indicator of things to come.

Ultimately, it will be exciting to see the new-look Clippers finally take the floor. Since the Blake Griffin trade overhauled the roster, there have been so many injuries that it’s been impossible to get a feel for what this team is. Most of the combinations that Rivers plays tonight will be brand new. There’s a lot to learn about this year’s Clippers, and though Sydney isn’t the right team to pose those questions, today’s game is at least a start.