Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: Friday, December 11 at 7 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Spectrum SportsNet, AM 570 LA Sports
Projected Starting Lineups:
Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka
Lakers: Dennis Schröder, Wesley Matthews, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell
Clippers: Jay Scrubb (foot surgery) — OUT, Marcus Morris Sr. (knee soreness) — OUT
Lakers: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Markieff Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marc Gasol (rest) — OUT, Alfonzo McKinnie (excused absence) — OUT
It has been 87 days since the Clippers last took the court to play an NBA basketball game. A lot has changed since then.
The Clippers are back in Los Angeles, playing in Staples Center for the first time since March 8. Doc Rivers is gone after seven seasons with the team, Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green, Landry Shamet, and Rodney McGruder have each gone their separate ways. Even though the Clippers are facing their rival Lakers, the stakes are much lower. It’s just preseason.
But in a worsening pandemic, the comfort of seeing of the Clippers play is not something to overlook. Despite the league’s plans to carry out a full season, having basketball back is a gift that could be taken away at any moment. It’s just preseason, but it’s Clippers basketball, and it’s worth enjoying.
On the court, the Clippers return one hell of a team, led by a fully-healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who recently made a commitment to spend the next five years of his career with this franchise. The two of them didn’t play together until the 15th game of the regular season last year, so joining forces in the preseason is a substantial head start. Head coach Ty Lue said that both stars have taken part in every drill in practice thus far at game speed, and though minutes will obviously be ramped up throughout the preseason, there is no indication that either player will be sitting out tonight or over the next three games.
The Clippers are playing their guys tonight against the Lakers. LeBron and AD are out— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) December 11, 2020
The rest of the squad is also ready to go, save for rookie Jay Scrubb, who figures to miss the first 3-4 months of the season recovering from foot surgery. That still leaves 19 players available against the Lakers, including the projected starting lineup of Patrick Beverley, George, Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., and Ivica Zubac.
All eyes will also be on the newcomers, specifically Serge Ibaka as the Clippers take on Harrell for the first time in a Lakers uniform. It’s an exhibition, but it wouldn’t hurt to get off to a good start against the player who shouldered a good deal of blame for last year’s postseason failures.
The game will look and feel a little different than even the ones in the bubble, as the Clippers take the floor in a cavernous, empty arena, one that was filled to brim just about a year ago for this same matchup. It almost feels incomprehensible that the NBA is even proceeding this way. But basketball will indeed be returning to our screens tonight. Hopefully it’s good.