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Clippers vs. Magic Preview and Game Thread

The Clippers host a Magic squad lacking rest and a lot of its rotation.

NBA: JAN 06 Magic at Clippers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game Information

Where: STAPLES Center

When: 7:30 PM PT

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

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: Patrick BeverleyLandry ShametKawhi LeonardMaurice HarklessIvica Zubac

Magic: Markelle FultzWes IwunduAaron GordonKhem BirchNikola Vucevic


Clippers: OUT — Paul George (hamstring)

Magic: OUT — Jonathan Isaac (knee), Al-Farouq Aminu (knee); TBA — D.J. Augustin (knee), Evan Fournier (quad), Michael Carter-Williams (shoulder)

The Big Picture and The Antagonist

Look, I don’t want to call this game a gimme. These are all professional players in a professional league. Did you see what they did to the Lakers last night?

But come on.

The Magic are on the road. (Like WAY on the road. Their home arena is 2,510 miles from STAPLES.) The Magic played last night. (OK, they probably didn’t change beds.) The Magic are a middling team from the Eastern Conference. Perhaps the Magic are better than middling at their best, but they’re far from their best. The Magic are very, very hurt.

Two (Isaac and Aminu) of their top nine minute-getters will be out. Two more (Fournier and Augustin) were listed as questionable before last night’s game but ultimately sat. Their respective statuses were unknown at the time of this writing, but it’s a safe assumption that neither rates above questionable tonight.

There has been much ado about the post-Christmas state of the Clippers: their chemistry, their effort, their focus, etc. They answered a question on Tuesday by wiping the hardwood with the Cavaliers. Tonight’s game makes a similar inquiry. The Clippers are presented with another inferior opponent, one that is both tired and injury-ridden. It’s a simple test. Take care of business. Move on. If the Clippers don’t, they’ll be asked a great deal more questions.


Matching Up With Vooch: Nikola Vucevic has nearly matched his 2019 All-Star campaign over his first 29 games this season, making good on the first year of his four-year, $100 million pact. And when I say matched, I mean remarkably so. The sole deviation is his field goal percentage, which can almost wholly be explained by his attempting nearly two extra three-pointers this year. Which is a good thing because he’s basically kept the long-range conversion rate up.

It’s Vucevic’s shooting that presents the Clippers their problem. The 260-pound bruiser would seem a natural check for Zubac, but he may drag the young Clipper all over the floor. So use Montrezl Harrell’s relative agility? Vucevic is 6’11” and a voracious rebounder, with a refined post game and an eye for incisive passes. He may simply be too much for Montrezl to handle.

The Clippers struggled against the league’s premier Nikola, Jokic, less than a week ago. That dispiriting loss led to another justified round of big-man debates. Vucevic isn’t Jokic, but he’s in the same genus. Doc Rivers has the rare opportunity to make a quick correction to his perceived Sunday mistake. How will he deploy his center options tonight?

Clippings: Yesterday was heavy on Clipper-related content . . . First, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne had this profile of Paul George’s decision to join the Clippers . . . ESPN+ had this Kevin Pelton breakdown of the Clippers’ trade options . . . San Diego State announced that it would hang its first basketball jersey among its banners: Kawhi Leonard’s . . . While the Clippers shop around for upgrades, this piece at Orlando Pinstriped Post asks whether the Magic should be selling parts.