Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
When: 5:30 PM PT
How to Watch/Listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Kawhi Leonard – Paul George – Moe Harkless – Ivica Zubac
Bucks: Eric Bledsoe – Khris Middleton – Wes Matthews – Giannis Antetokounmpo – Brook Lopez
Clippers: Rodney McGruder Out (Hamstring), Landry Shamet Out (Ankle), JaMychal Green Questionable (Tailbone)
The Big Picture
The Clippers have won nine of their last 10 games, and their defense has shown signs of lockdown potential after struggling to start the season. With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the court, the Clippers have been able to both blow teams out and tough wins out in slogs. They’ve lit teams up from three, put themselves at the line, and diced defenses from midrange. Some of those wins have been against bad teams, but the Clippers have had their share of wins over top teams as well, like the Mavericks, Rockets, and Celtics. In short, they’ve demonstrated capability to win in a wide variety of ways, the mark of a truly dangerous team.
The Bucks are about as good a team as there is. They’ve won 13 straight contests to give them a ridiculous 19-3 record, and done it in style, with several massive blowout victories. Giannis Antetokounmpo is gearing up for an MVP repeat – his numbers are up from a year ago, and his newfound proficiency from the three-point line has opened up the lane even further for his drives. He’s the most dominant game-to-game force in the NBA today, and there are nights he looks nigh unstoppable. Nor are the Bucks a one-man band. Giannis is their only star, but they run 10-11 deep with role players, and their key rotation pieces fit excellently in Giannis’ orbit. They’re a fantastic team and are exceedingly tough to beat at home.
Kawhi Active: The Clippers and Kawhi Leonard received some negative press a few weeks ago during their first game against the Bucks due to Kawhi load managing a nationally televised game against a top team. Now, hilariously, with both teams looking like absolute championship contenders, the two will play a game not on national television – and Kawhi will play. Kawhi does not seem like someone who takes national media or social media jabs to heart, but it would not be surprising at all to see him come out like gangbusters against the Bucks tonight.
Guarding Giannis: Not only were the Clippers without Kawhi in their last contest against the Bucks, but they didn’t have Paul George either. With both those guys active, the Clippers now have three players (along with Moe Harkless) to throw at Giannis in one on one coverage. It’s usually good to have defenders rotate on Giannis, because he’s such a tiring presence to defend, and the Clippers should have plenty of options. That’s good, because while throwing multiple defenders at Giannis can sometimes be the only way to stop him, it also leaves the Bucks’ abundance of good three-point shooters open, and they can put up points in a hurry when that happens.
Patrick Patterson, Lights Out: Perhaps the most surprising contributor to the Clippers this season has been Patrick Patterson, picked up off the waiver wire at the end of the summer. He gave the Clippers at least solid minutes at the start of the season when Paul George was out (even if he played too much) and has been lights out the past couple games when JaMychal Green has sat. He’s shooting 43.9% from three on the season, and has been absolute money from the corners and the wing. The Clippers will generate plenty of open shots for their secondary players due to the offensive prowess of their stars, and so far Patterson has reaped the rewards.
Check back in later tonight for the game thread, and keep an eye out for any updates regarding the status of Green.