After their most recent blowout win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Clippers’ record has improved to 8-4 with an extended seven-game winning streak. Now against the Chicago Bulls, who also have an 8-4 record, the question is whether or not the Clippers can make it eight in a row.
The Clippers’ impressive winning streak following a lackluster start to the season is not just due to luck — it’s their offensive production and defensive effort that has led to their wins, many of which required climbing out of double-digit deficits. Nicolas Batum has had a noticeable impact on defense, and his last-second deflection secured the close victory against the Heat. Paul George’s confident play on both ends of the floor has made him one of the top players in the steals category and earned him Western Conference player of the week honors.
What might be the most exciting and entertaining part of the Clippers’ success, however, is the bench play. Channeling the strong second-unit tradition of the franchise that has dated back to Jamal Crawford, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard enter the game and bring an energy that is oftentimes the catalyst for a scoring run. Isaiah Hartenstein’s passing allows for easy looks on offense, and his defense (and high rate of fouls) makes a player think twice before going up in the paint.
When: Sunday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m. PT
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: Blog a Bull
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Bulls: Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Javonte Green, Tony Bradley
Clippers: Brandon Boston, Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Jason Preston — OUT; Keon Johnson — GAME TIME DECISION
Bulls: Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams — OUT
Don’t count out the new-look Chicago Bulls — the additions of Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan have boosted them to early success, holding onto the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The wing duo of DeRozan and Zach LaVine will surely be a test for the Clippers perimeter defense, as they currently average a combined 50 points per game shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. However, the Clippers will benefit from the absence of the Bulls’ starting center Nikola Vucevic, whose outside shooting capabilities pose challenges for traditional centers on defense.
Since this game is the latter part of a back-to-back, make sure to watch the energy level of the Clippers and whether or not they are visibly tired. Their seven-game winning streak demanded intensity and focus that could be difficult to continue indefinitely, and adding another win to make it eight in a row would further demonstrate that the Clippers’ success without Kawhi Leonard is not a fluke.