If it weren’t for the stellar play of the Warriors and the Suns this season, the back and forth contest last night between crosstown Los Angeles rivals Lakers and Clippers would have been the bonafide marquee matchup of the night. And suffice to say, it more than delivered as such. Tonight’s game, in which the Clippers travel north to face the Sacramento Kings, may not be all that. But it may end up being just as crucial of a game for adding to the win column total, perfecting the rotation, and building momentum, as we enter the second quarter of the season.
When: Saturday, December 4 at 7 p.m. PT
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: Sactown Royalty
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., Serge Ibaka, Ivica Zubac
Kings: De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Terence Davis, Chimezie Metu, Richaun Holmes
Clippers: Nicolas Batum, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Kings: Maurice Harkless — QUESTIONABLE; Harrison Barnes — DOUBTFUL; Robert Woodard II— OUT
Ty Lue, of late, has utilized the absence of Nic Batum and the minutes it frees up as an opportunity to tinker with his lineups. From testing a two-big lineup in a game against Detroit earlier last week, to giving rookie Brandon Boston Jr. real minutes in the rotation, to last game, when he swapped Serge Ibaka for Eric Bledsoe in the starting lineup. The result and some way too early reactions? A total team win and incessant demands from Clippers Reddit for Bledsoe to keep playing with the second unit, respectively.
As for the new rotation, Bledsoe — who was a detriment to floor spacing when he got minutes alongside the starters prior — did seem more comfortable out there against the Lakers second unit. His slashing complemented Isaiah Hartenstein’s high basketball IQ and propensity to be in the right place, at the right time. The defense of Terance Mann and Hartenstein also freed Bledsoe up to be more aggressive defending the opposing point of attack.
Against Sacramento bigs who, similar to the Lakers size, are more threatening down low and in the paint than out on the perimeter, Lue has a chance to roll with the big starting lineup once again. If the Clippers are able to get out early against the Kings team, expect the unexpected, as Lue may very well utilize the minutes tonight to experiment with new lineups.
Furthermore, look for Boston, who played 24 minutes in the Clippers last matchup against the Kings, to potentially earn some more minutes tonight as well. Scoring 13 points in those minutes on Wednesday and earning some real run in the second quarter against the Lakers yesterday, Boston is still getting accustomed to the NBA game and pace. But little by little, he’s making a case for an even larger role in the rotation.
This game cannot be taken lightly, however, as Wednesday’s loss to the Kings indicates, albeit that loss coming with a Clippers team playing without George, their undeniable star and leader. One way or another, Lue and his team will look to put together another win for the books, and build off last night’s win to start a new streak.