After a comprehensive win against Minnesota, there is no rest for the Clippers as they take on the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday. The Blazers are 2-1, having won each of their last two games after a dud against Utah to open the season.
Due to the new COVID-travel protocols, the Blazers have been in Los Angeles since this weekend and are well-rested. They played the Lakers on the Monday and won that game with a fourth-quarter comeback fueled by hot 3-point shooting from Damian Lillard and Gary Trent Jr. The Clippers haven’t surrendered even league-average shooting from beyond the arc in any of their four games thus far. They also shoot the three better than just about any team in the NBA and will test Portland’s drop coverages, so the 3-point line will be hotly contested territory in this matchup.
The Blazers also have reasonable defensive personnel to handle the Clippers wings in Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington, one of the few teams in the league that has two solid perimeter defenders to contend with Kawhi Leonard (if he plays) and Paul George. They also have a burly backup center in Enes Kanter who will force Ivica Zubac to work harder than he had to against the Wolves Tuesday.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: Wednesday, Dec. 30, 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: NBA TV, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 LA Sports
Projected starting lineups
Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka
Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Derrick Jones Jr., Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic
Clippers: Marcus Morris Sr. (sore right knee), Jay Scrubb (foot surgery) — OUT
Trail Blazers: Gary Trent Jr. (calf), Nassir Little (personal), Zach Collins (ankle) — OUT
In addition to the fascinating chess matches these two teams can play with one another on the court, there is a sizable amount of off-the-court intrigue. The last time the Clippers played the Blazers was in the bubble, and they got the better of Portland despite not needing a victory thanks to Lillard missing a pair of free throws at the end of the game.
However, the back and forth didn’t stop once the clock hit zeros, as tensions escalated in the press conference and on social media following the game. The two teams didn’t meet again for the rest of the season, but the Blazers certainly didn’t forget being roasted by the Clippers and had some fun at their expense when the Clippers were eliminated from the playoffs.
Paul George says he has left everything in the bubble behind him, including presumably this low-level beef between the two teams, but it’s still fun to think about these superstars bringing an extra level of intensity to their meeting, even if it’s only week two of the regular season.
We’ll keep you posted throughout the day on Leonard’s availability, as well as that of Marcus Morris Sr. Enjoy the game, and comment below!