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Clippers vs. Trail Blazers Preview: Defense wins championships, right?

The Clippers look to extend their winning streak to five.

Charlotte Hornets v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The last time these two teams faced each other, the Clippers fell short by 19. And the time before? The Clippers strolled out of Staples Center with a 30-point blowout win. This time around, the Clippers and the Blazers will play their third matchup of the season with a little more on the line: a five-game winning streak.


Game Information

When: Tuesday, November 9 at 7 p.m. PT

Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

How to watch/listen: TNT & Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 Radio

Opposing perspective: Blazer’s Edge

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers (5-4): Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac

Trail Blazers (5-5): Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic

Injuries/Absences

Clippers: Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Jason Preston — OUT

Trail Blazers: None


The Clippers will face off against a mediocre Blazers team that has reached the .500 mark without much help from its franchise player, Damian Lillard. Despite being nominated to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, the California native hasn’t been making as much noise as we’re used to (we’re only 10 games into this premature season, admittedly): his points per game have dropped from 28.8 to 18.5, and he is shooting 10 percent worse from the field and close to 15 percent worse from downtown. His veteran partner in crime, CJ McCollum, on the other hand, has been the team’s clear first option, averaging 22.1 points off of 43.1 percent shooting from the field.

These two aren’t the only players who the Clippers should keep an eye out for, though. Although the Blazers might not be enjoying as much superstar firepower as they have had the past decade, the team has multiple weapons who can put the ball in the basket at any point in the game — the likes of Norman Powell, Jusuf Nurkic, and Anfernee Simons. These three players, alongside the team’s renowned backcourt duo, are each averaging more than 10 points per game. Simons, more notably, has been making a case for the MIP award, averaging 14 points per contest (more than a six-point increase from last season).

Now how will the Clippers put five of these flames out and keep the ball game under control Tuesday night? The short answer — just do what they’ve been doing in their first nine games of the season. The Clippers have been among the league’s best at quelling fires and stymieing opponents before they heat up. Led by the league’s top wing defenders in Paul George and Nicolas Batum, the Clippers have the third-best defensive rating in the league with 100.4. And with Serge Ibaka back in action, the Clippers have three athletic bigs, all capable of meeting opponents at the rim and protecting the paint.

Furthermore, there always seems to be an especially suffocating defensive presence at Staples Center: the Clippers have only given up 99.6 points per contest at home while giving up 106.3 in away games.

And in case you forgot, the Clippers are coming off a comeback win where they did not give up a single point for more than six minutes in the fourth quarter against a fast-paced offense-heavy Hornets team. Although the Blazers have a stronger track record of success than that Charlotte team, the Clippers will look to continue to put the brakes on opposing offenses and climb up in the Western Conference standings.