Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: 7:30 PM PT
How to Watch/Listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Cavs: Darius Garland – Collin Sexton – Cedi Osman – Kevin Love – Tristan Thompson
Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Landry Shamet – Kawhi Leonard – Moe Harkless – Ivica Zubac
Cavs: Kevin Porter Jr. Out (Knee), Dylan Windler Out (Leg), Larry Nance Jr. Questionable (Knee), Ante Zizic Questionable (Vertigo)
Clippers: Paul George Out (Hamstring)
The Big Picture
The Clippers have continued to stumble, dropping to 7-6 over their past 13 games after a 20-7 start, and have played perhaps even worse than that records shows. They have appeared to be listless, disorganized, and out of synch, consistently losing to good teams and barely scraping by against the league’s dregs. The lack of Paul George is of course a factor, as the Clippers desperately miss his outstanding two-way play, but it doesn’t excuse the lack of effort on a nightly basis. The Clippers are in the middle of an easy portion of their schedule but have not been able to take advantage. They’ll need to do so soon, or they’ll continue to fall in the Western Conference standings.
The Cavs have had a roller coaster of a season, with numerous outbreaks of dissent between players on the team and between players and rookie head coach John Beilein. The Cavs, in short, are a bit of a mess, and it’s clear that many of their veterans are simply playing out the string while awaiting a trade to a better team. Young guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland have struggled together, especially defensively, although Garland has picked up his play of late. The Cavs just aren’t very good, but like many young teams, they can be frisky on any given evening, and have had a couple wins against playoff contenders.
Potential Trade Showings: The Clippers have been linked several times to veteran Cavs big man Tristan Thompson, and it would not be surprising at all if Thompson had a big game to prove himself as a worthy trade candidate to the Clippers brass. Thompson is an offensive rebounding machine who still plays solid defense, and has significant experience playing in the NBA Finals – something hugely attractive to the Finals-chasing Clips. Thompson’s large salary complicates the potential trade scenarios, but he’s absolutely a candidate who could continue to be linked to the Clips going forward.
Starting Lineup Switch: Doc Rivers started Lou Williams over Landry Shamet on Sunday (in addition to the more regular Patterson over Harkless swap) and it will be interesting to see if he continues that trend tonight. The Cavs do play big, so Patterson starting again is a possibility, but it would be nice if the Clippers went with the superior JaMychal Green instead. And, while Shamet has struggled mightily much of this year, it’s an open question whether benching him will inspire him to do better or further lower his confidence. Whatever the issue, the Clippers need to get Shamet going sooner or later, as he’s vital to the Clippers’ offense and his struggles are a significant reason that the Clips have been more inconsistent than expected offensively.
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