The LA Clippers look to earn their first win of the season in home opener tonight. After an exciting back and forth debut against Golden State, the Clippers look to contain yet another dominant guard on one end of the floor while finding their own rhythm on the other.
“The toughest thing about starting the season off is finding your rhythm,” Paul George said in his postgame interview Thursday. He and Eric Bledsoe hope to continue their strong starts against Memphis, while players like Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson look to make their impacts even more pronounced in the second game of this season.
A young and hungry Grizzlies team facing against a veteran and resilient Clippers squad, this battle of youth vs. experience is as old as time. This season, however, this game is likely to be more significant than in previous years, since it’s never too early to start thinking about playoff implications. It’s very possible that come March or April, the Clippers and Grizzlies see themselves facing off against each other, vying for a playoff spot.
When: Saturday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports West, AM 570 Radio
Opposing perspective: Grizzly Bear Blues
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Grizzlies: Ja Morant, De’Anthony Melton, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
Clippers: Keon Johnson — QUESTIONABLE; Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks — OUT
As a team that stayed in the upper third of the league in terms of pace last season, Memphis’ speed and movement is a point of focus for the Clippers. After the Thursday game against the Warriors, both Paul George and Ty Lue commented on the Warriors’ player and ball and movement.
“We talked about [their speed], but it’s another thing to get on the floor and actually get a chance to play against them,” Lue said.
“It was a good test,” George added. “We know what we gotta do, playing these fast-paced teams.”
The key to the game tonight is going to be staying disciplined on defense, while playing free and finding the aforementioned flow on offense. Containing a player with the elite combination of explosiveness and skill that Ja Morant has is not an easy feat. But if any team has the individual defenders and defensive awareness as a team to do it, it’s the Clippers. Playing hard for all 48 minutes, regardless of hot stretches by either team, is also crucial.
And throughout it all, the Clippers seem focused to take each of these early games, regardless of outcome, as learning opportunities. “We gotta continue to keep growing,” Lue said. Once again, it’s about staying focused, being adaptable, and building the foundation for a championship-caliber team, one shot, one habit, one win at a time.