Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
When: 12:30 p.m. PT
How to watch/listen: ABC, AM 570
Odds: Clippers -2.5
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Lakers: Avery Bradley, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee
The Clippers enter today’s matchup against their STAPLES Center cohabitants having won their last six games by an average of 16 points. They have yet to lose with a fully healthy roster, and have been particularly deadly with their current lineup since picking up Marcus Morris Sr. at the trade deadline and Reggie Jackson in the buyout market.
Over the last two weeks, the Clippers have been the best team in the league in record and in point differential, per Cleaning the Glass, outscoring their opponents by 20.4 points per 100 possessions, not including garbage time. They’ve had the league’s second-best offense and defense during that stretch.
Kawhi Leonard has led the way for the Clippers, averaging 24.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 30.1 minutes per game. No other player has averaged over 27 minutes, as the team has been able to utilize its full depth to overwhelm opponents. Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Marcus Morris are all averaging in double figures, and four players (Leonard, George, Williams, and Jackson) are averaging at least 3.5 assists. Aside from a breakout performance by Shake Milton of the Philadelphia 76ers, no one has been able to even test the Clippers recently.
The Lakers are arguably the best opponent to face off against the Clippers since the start of this streak. Owners of the top record in the Western Conference (48-13) and fresh off a win against the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks, the Lakers are eager to exact a measure of revenge against the Clippers after losing both of the first two meetings. The Christmas Day Clipper victory was particularly impressive after the Clippers erased a 15-point deficit to win as the nominal road team.
The Clippers don’t really have anything to prove in this matchup. They know they can beat the Lakers, having done so without Paul George on Opening Night, and then repeating the feat when both teams were at full strength on Christmas. Leonard has owned his matchup against LeBron James. Leonard totaled 65 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists in the first two games while shooting 6-of-12 from distance; meanwhile, James has only scored 41 points on 37.2% shooting from the field and 3-of-17 on 3-pointers. The Clippers have also frustrated Anthony Davis, forcing him away from the basket into being a jump-shooter.
The Clippers are confident in their advantages against the Lakers. Their counterparts, however, despite holding a 5.5-game lead in the standings, are desperate to earn a victory and some peace of mind, especially if the two teams were to meet in the Western Conference Finals.
Both of the first two games have been exciting, tense affairs. Hopefully, the third one lives up to that billing.
- Joakim Noah has not yet signed his contract with the Clippers and will thus not be available. Similarly, Dion Waiters has signed with the Lakers, but the team is easing him along and won’t play him for a few games.
- Beverley has been the hero for the Clippers in these two matchups. He has comfortably switched onto James despite having a severe size disadvantage, and sealed the game in the last meeting by stripping James on the Lakers’ final possession. The Clippers have outscored the Lakers by 39 points in Beverley’s 63 minutes thus far.
- Even though the two teams were both at full strength for the Christmas Day game, the rosters have changed since then, meaning this will be the first time Marcus Morris plays against his twin brother Markieff Morris on opposite sites of the Battle of L.A.
Enjoy the game, and comment below!