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Clippers vs Hawks Game Preview: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George Hopefully Make Their Debut Together

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It’s been a long wait, but Clippers fans should get their first taste of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the court together tonight against the Atlanta Hawks.

Milwaukee Bucks v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Information

When: 7:30 PM PT

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

How to Watch/Listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups

Hawks: Trae YoungCam Reddish – Deandre Hunter – Jabari ParkerDamian Jones

Clippers: Patrick BeverleyKawhi LeonardPaul GeorgeMoe HarklessIvica Zubac

Injuries

Hawks: John Collins Out (Suspension), Kevin Huerter Out (Shoulder), Vince Carter Out (Personal), Evan Turner Questionable (Achilles)

Clippers: Landry Shamet Out (Ankle), Kawhi Leonard Questionable (Knee), Patrick Beverley Questionable (Calf)

The Big Picture

The Clippers are a semi-disappointing 7-5 after dropping back to back losses for the first time this season. While both their defense and offense have looked excellent at times, they really haven’t been able to put it all together since the opening two games of the season. There are stretches, especially in 1st quarters, where they can’t score, and there are other stretches where they can’t force any stops. Ultimately, however, they are 7-2 when Kawhi Leonard plays, and have faced a difficult schedule to start the season. Paul George looked magnificent in his first game back, and while the Clippers will miss Landry Shamet, seeing George and Kawhi (hopefully – he is questionable, after all) alongside each other for the first time will be incredible for Clippers fans. There are reasons to be worried, but also reasons to think that many of their early weaknesses will be covered up by the starpower present when PG and Kawhi share the court.

The Antagonist

The Hawks were a sleeper pick by many to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this year, but sit at 4-7 and have been hurt badly by injuries and the suspension to John Collins. Their defense has been porous, as well, and the Hawks don’t have the tools to stop the Clippers, particularly on the wings. Trae Young is providing one of the best nightly shows in the NBA right now, showcasing his full arsenal of offensive weaponry while also allowing a flair for the dramatic. Young will get his, and will also maintain a respectable Hawks offense, but without Collins and Kevin Huerter, he doesn’t have a lot of help on that end. Simply put, this version of the Hawks isn’t all that talented, and are very, very young. They’re fun, but they aren’t all that good.

Notes

Kawhi and PG, Together: Finally, in the 13th game of the season, Clippers fans should get to see Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the court together for the Clips. It’s been a long wait since early July, but the two superstars starting together is imminent, and should overshadow much of the Clippers’ early issues. Need more defense? How about Paul George replacing Landry Shamet in the starting lineup. Offense needs more juice? The Finals MVP and the third-place finisher in the regular MVP race, both of whom can drop 25+ easily on any given night, can now be staggered so one of them is on the court at any given time. George and Kawhi do both share some ball-stopping tendencies, so the offensive fit might not be the cleanest, especially right away, but the Clippers should be extremely good when both wings are active.

Ty Wallace Revenge Game: Old friend Ty Wallace, who was such a nice find in the 2017-2018 season and also gave some good minutes last year, is now on the Hawks, and has entered the rotation over the past few games. In typical Ty fashion, he’s not shooting well from the field, and is not putting up big counting stats, but is consistently showing up in the “plus” side of the boxscore with his defense and consistent willingness to do the little things. Ty doesn’t receive a ton of minutes and isn’t the type of player to go off for a revenge performance anyway, but he will probably do a couple things out there that will make me wish he was still on the Clips. Miss ya, Ty.

Missing Vince Carter: Speaking of missing, this will presumably be Vince Carter’s last game against the Clippers in Staples Center, but the legendary veteran will be absent from the game due to personal reasons. Vince is in his 22nd season, and has already announced that this will be his last, so it’s too bad that Clippers fans won’t get to see him one last time (though there is a chance he tries to go to a contender for one last chance at a ring). Vince has been in the NBA longer than most players in the last couple of draft classes have been alive, and was somehow still a positive impact player in the 2019 season. It would have been cool to give him a last sendoff at Staples, but alas.

Check back in for the game thread later tonight, and prepare for what should be an entertaining contest.