Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
When: 7:00 PM PT
How to Watch/Listen: TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Kawhi Leonard – Paul George – Moe Harkless – Ivica Zubac
Blazers: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside
Clippers: JaMychal Green Questionable (Tailbone) Landry Shamet Out (Ankle), Rodney McGruder Out (Hamstring)
Trailblazers: Jusuf Nurkic Out (Leg), Zach Collins Out (shoulder)
The Big Picture
The Clippers have won 8 of their last 9 games. They have four players averaging above 18 points a game. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard still have yet to practice together, yet are 5-1 on the court together. When just PG plays, LA is 8-2. The Clips are also 12-1 at home. They look scary and the best part of this? They aren’t close to fully formed yet. So for all of the conjecture surrounding a bad loss to the Spurs last week or a close victory against the Grizz from fans of LA’s other team, give this squad another month or two and they will be nearly unbeatable from the looks of how they are doing at about 60% right now. They are also still without Landry Shamet, out the last 11 games with a high ankle sprain — the teams best three-point shooter — and still haven’t quite figured out their best rotations yet. Signs of slowing down are nil, especially at home. Still, tonight’s game against the Blazers makes me nervous.
The Blazers, no matter how poor they are playing, always give LA a tough game. Now that they added the best free-agent signing in NBA history (laughs in stupidity) and Damian Lillard is healthy, this team is riding a three-game win streak and will shoot the ball well. They gave the Clips a scare a month back when they played. No let downs, please.
A lot has been made about the Trailblazers season so far this season. A team that usually flies under the radar given their Pacific Northwest location and penchant for being a middle of the pack playoff team, the Blazers have been at the forefront of the NBA news this season. Some of it is due to their abnormally bad play to start the year, some of it is due to Hassan Whiteside being Hassan Whiteside (you know, bad), some having to do with Damian Lillard’s surprisingly good rap album, “Big D.O.L.L.A.” but mostly because the Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony on November 19. The free-agent was brought on because the Blazers were desperate. They needed shooting and they needed a wing. Rodney Hood, Kent Bazemore, Mario Hezonja and Nassir Little weren’t cutting it. Thus far, Melo has actually helped the Blazers win games despite being an advanced analytics disaster. 3-3 since his arrival, Melo is averaging 17.7 points and 6 rebounds a game on.462/.370/.800 splits. Not bad for someone who hadn’t played an NBA game in nearly a year.
Outside of Melo, this is still a team that is very dangerous despite what their record states. Dame and CJ average 49.3 points by themselves. Whiteside, despite being a terrible defender and a NBA 1st team bad attitude player, can still rebound with the best of them and block shots. Rodney Hood is shooting above 50% from three this season and Anfernee Simons might be a new Clipper killer. The Blazers are a team that’s hard to stop when they get hot and still have a winning pedigree, despite what their record may be this season. Again, they have won three straight and seem to be gelling well with Melo in the lineup. Also, they are coming off four days rest. Be on high alert tonight,
Landry back soon?: We got this tweet from Landry Shamet four days ago:
Three weeks ago, Shamet injured his ankle after stepping on fellow former Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet’s foot. It was deemed the injury was a “Grade 2 high left ankle sprain.” Reports from doctors and Twitter doctors alike said that this injury was a 4-6 week infliction. While Landry will more than likely be missing this week, and there is no timetable from the team on his return, let’s hope he is closer to a four week timetable rather than five or six.
Offense vs. defense: Just like the Wizards and Pelicans, the Blazers are a top 10 offense in the league but find themselves out of the playoff race currently. This probably has to do with having the 7th worst defense in the league by opponent points per game. The defensive combo of Dame and CJ has never been strong. When you add Rodney Hood and Melo to that bunch, as well as the slow-footed Whiteside, this is what you get.