Where: Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI
When: 4:00 PM Pacific Time
How to watch: NBA TV, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Projected Starting Lineups:
Sharks: Xudong Luo – James Nunnally – Mingxin Ju – Donatas Motiejunas – Hanlin Dong
Clippers: Pat Beverley – Landry Shamet – Jerome Robinson – Moe Harkless – Ivica Zubac
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard Out (Rest), Paul George Out (Shoulder), Lou Williams Questionable (Rest)
The Big Picture:
The Clippers head into their second preseason game 0-1 after being thrashed by James Harden and the Rockets in their opener. The Clippers looked sloppy for much of the game, particularly offensively, as they gave the ball away 22 times on mostly unforced errors. On the brighter side, they also just missed a ton of wide-open shots – if those looks had dropped, the score would have been a lot closer. Still, the most important thing is that the Clippers got reps against another NBA team (and the Rockets played key guys, especially Harden, for a significant portion of the game) and got out of it without injuries. They will hope to look sharper against the Sharks, who the Rockets doubled up in the opening game of preseason, while continuing to avoid injuries.
The Shanghai Sharks are a CBA team. I don’t pretend to follow Chinese basketball closely, but the Sharks don’t seem like a particularly great CBA team, having failed to win the CBA for nearly 20 years. The only two names on their roster who will ring any bells to most NBA fans are Donatas Motiejunas (who notably played with the Rockets for several years) and James Nunnally (on the fringes of the NBA for much of the last decade), and neither of them are exactly Stephon Marbury-level names. Even without George and Leonard, the Clippers should be able to take care of the Sharks with great ease.
Veteran’s minute loads: In game one of the preseason, Doc Rivers kept the minutes light on the Clippers’ veterans. Lou Williams played 10 minutes, Pat Beverley 12, Rodney McGruder 17, and Patrick Patterson didn’t check into the game at all. Lou might not play at all in this one, per Doc, and there’s a good chance Pat’s minutes are kept down as well. While this is a smart tactic to keep those guys rested and injury-free, with so many new players on the team (not just George and Leonard, but McGruder, Moe Harkless, Terance Mann, and more) cohesion could be an issue early on, and preseason reps could help a bit. As the preseason goes on Doc might fall further into his actual rotations, but it doesn’t seem like this contest against the Sharks will prompt more realistic game plans from Doc.
Terance Mann as point guard: Mann was the lone player from the rookie/two-way/training camp group to get substantial playing time before garbage time in Game 1, and stood out on the court due to his size, defense, and rebounding. The Clippers surprised fans and even Mann himself by converting him to a point guard back in Summer League, and are not backing down from their stance that his true position is as a ball-handler. He looked fairly comfortable out there, especially in transition, but he did have a few rough turnovers. Hopefully he looks even sharper against the Sharks, and can really settle in as a halfcourt initiator.
Jerome Robinson making shots: The Clippers have been talking up Jerome Robinson since last season ended. He’s been said to have had a “terrific offseason”, a “fantastic summer”, and more. Unfortunately, he looked pretty rough in the first game of preseason, immediately getting in foul trouble and shooting 3-12 on the night. Similarly to last year, the shot looked good, but everything else was an adventure, especially his forays to the rim. If Jerome plays well in preseason there’s a chance that he could crack the Clippers rotation, but he needs to play better than he did Thursday night. That starts, quite simply, with him making more shots. If he’s out there, at the very least he needs to make a high percentage of his open threes. If not, there are plenty of other guys on this Clippers roster who want minutes too, and Jerome could get passed up for playing time yet again.
Check back in for the game thread shortly before the game starts, and feel free to comment on other NBA preseason games below.