When: 3:00 PM PT
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington DC
How to Watch/Listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Kawhi Leonard – Paul George – Moe Harkless – Ivica Zubac
Wizards: Ish Smith – Bradley Beal – Isaac Bonga – Rui Hachimura – Moe Wagner
Clippers: Rodney McGruder Out (Hamstring), Landry Shamet Out (Ankle), JaMychal Green Questionable (Tailbone), Patrick Patterson Out (Back)
Wizards: John Wall Out (Achilles), Thomas Bryant Out (Foot), Isaiah Thomas Out (Calf), C.J. Miles Out (Wrist), Jordan McRae Out (Finger)
The Big Picture
The Clippers are coming off their worst loss of the season, getting destroyed on the road by the surging Milwaukee Bucks. The Clippers were underprepared and simply did not show up, which is a no-go against any NBA team, but especially one as capable and dangerous as the Bucks. They’ve had a few efforts along those lines already this season, which is disappointing because those were such rare occurrences last year. The Clippers have continuously flashed signs of being a devastating team on both sides of the ball, but haven’t been able to maintain such a clip for more than a couple games. Hopefully that Bucks loss will serve as a wake-up call, because they could use one.
Despite being a mere 7-14, the Wizards have kind of been one of the NBA’s best stories this year. Widely projected to be a boring, miserable, awful team, the Wizards have instead been one of the most entertaining, putting up huge offensive numbers while setting records for defensive ineptitude. They’re not all that good, but any team that can put up 120 points or more with ease is at least somewhat dangerous. Bradley Beal is a star, but the Wiz have also received phenomenal play from sharpshooter Davis Bertans and nice supporting performances from Ish Smith and Moe Wagner. In fact, the Clippers are playing the Wiz at a bad time – Isaiah Thomas is out, and he’s been so bad defensively that the Wiz might be better off without him. Still, even though the Wizards are a respectable 4-5 at home, the Clippers should easily win this one.
Containing Bertans: While Beal is (by far) the Wizards’ best player, and a near lock to make the All Star team again this season, it’s Bertans who the Clippers must keep an eye on. His ability to drain several threes in the span of just a minute has won the Wizards multiple games this season, and he torched the Clippers to go 6-9 from deep in their contest last week. The Latvian Laser has already become beloved in DC, and if he gets hot the Wizards’ usually dormant crowd might get going. If the Clippers can keep Bertans under wraps, they should take the victory.
Kawhi and PG domination, part two: Kawhi and PG destroyed the Wizards in their last meeting, combining for 65 points on 42 shots. The Wizards have no players capable of even approximating decent defense on the Clippers’ two superstars, lacking height, length, and defensive prowess across their roster. Kawhi and George have been somewhat inconsistent of late, but both shined against the Wizards, and they should have no problem doing so again in this one. It would be great to see their shots fall once more, especially Kawhi, who has not been as efficient as usual thus far this season.
Clippers feeling absences: One of the reasons for the Clippers’ recent inconsistencies is their current lack of depth. While they do have two superstars, NBA games can be won and lost by supporting units, and the Clippers’ normally unstoppable bench has not been quite as potent of late. Missing Landry Shamet (a vital component to a healthy Clippers’ offense), Rodney McGruder (Shamet’s replacement and a capable two-way player), and JaMychal Green (an x-factor for the Clippers’ going small and spacing the floor while retaining size and rebounding) have taken away from the reserves’ vitality. In the Clippers’ two most recent losses, their bench was outplayed by the Spurs’ and Bucks’ reserves, and that was a significant reason for the defeats. The sooner the Clippers get healthy, the better.
Remember that this is an early afternoon game, and come check back in with the game thread later today!