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Clippers vs. Pacers Preview: Undermanned

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Tonight’s meeting pits two squads with particularly incomplete rotations against one another.

Indiana Pacers v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Information

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

When: 4:00 PM PT

How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 LA Sports

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: Patrick BeverleyPaul George — TBA — Maurice HarklessIvica Zubac

Pacers: Aaron HolidayJeremy LambT.J. WarrenDomantas SabonisMyles Turner

Injuries

Clippers: OUT — Landry Shamet (ankle), Rodney McGruder (hamstring); STATUS PENDING — Kawhi Leonard (injury management), Patrick Patterson (back)

Pacers: OUT — Victor Oladipo (knee); STATUS PENDING — Malcolm Brogdon (hand); JaKarr Sampson (back)

The Big Picture

Is tonight’s rotation, which isn’t very big at all. It makes for a pretty empty portrait.

Kawhi Leonard will probably sit. (Doc Rivers was noncommittal when asked about Kawhi’s and Paul George’s statuses around the time of this writing.) JaMychal Green returned last night to play just four minutes in something like the Grampa Simpson meme brought to frustrating life. (Green seemed hurt still, but again, no official word.) If he has to sit again, and Landry Shamet, Rodney McGruder, and Patrick Patterson all remain out, it’s going to mean big minutes for players accustomed to small ones.

The Antagonist

The Indiana Pacers envisioned the eventual harmony of two young, complementary star guards. A quarter of the way through the season, offseason addition Malcolm Brogdon has been the only one to suit up, but the Pacers have thrived anyway. If the top of the Eastern Conference weren’t so darn strong all of a sudden, their 15-8 record would earn them a higher rung than sixth.

Not to worry, because Victor Oladipo, who might’ve exercised his silken crooner’s voice on The Masked Singer if viewer speculation is on-point, will play. Eventually. (There remains no timeline for his return.) And when he does he play he’ll join a lineup that looks deep, with T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb adding perimeter scoring punch to paired promontories Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.

In recent seasons, the Pacers have sat in the East’s muddled middle — or perhaps floated precariously atop it — competitive but ultimately harmless. It’s a minor pity that their improvement actually finds them in worse playoff position than arguably lesser versions earned in the past. Such is sport and life. Were they in the West, they would hold a higher seed. When was the last time you could say that?

Notes

  • Help From Unexpected Places: Derrick Walton Jr. received his first real minutes in last night’s victory, and he made a case to have his number called ahead of Terance Mann’s and Jerome Robinson’s. Walton’s guile and bowlegged physicality showed at both ends. Tonight will give us an idea of whether he won Doc over like he did Clippers Twitter.
  • Clippings: Here’s fellow team site Indy Cornrows on staggering Sabonis and Turner, the Pacers’ ongoing existential dilemma . . . Doc Rivers featured prominently in Dan Woike’s story about coaching and stress and health for the LA Times.