Entering their fourth matchup of the season, both the Trail Blazers and the Clippers are looking to build some momentum. After rattling off a four-game win streak, Portland preceded to lose five of six games, including two blowout losses in its previous two games. As for the Clippers, after their seven-game win streak earlier this season, their play since has been hovering firmly in the realm of mediocrity.
As such, both of these two teams will walk into Moda center, Monday night, especially eager for a win against what has recently grown into a subtle rivalry.
When: Monday, December 6 at 7 p.m. PT
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: Blazer’s Edge
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Trailblazers: Dennis Smith Jr., CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic
Clippers: Nicolas Batum, Keon Johnson, Jay Scrubb, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Trailblazers: CJ McCollum — PROBABLE; Nassir Little — QUESTIONABLE; Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons — OUT
What has driven either team to this point is the dichotomy that either team employs. The Trail Blazers, mimicking the play of their guards, are ranked fifth in terms of offensive rating and dead last in terms of defensive rating. The Clippers, on the other hand, are ranked fourth in terms of defensive rating and fifth from the bottom in terms of offensive rating.
That is to say, on one end of the floor, an elite offense goes up against a similarly top-class defense. On the other end, a struggling offense matches up against a comparably low-tier defense. The game will be decided by which team knows who they are and has the more reliable identity.
The Blazers, however, are without their most potent offensive weapon in Damian Lillard, as well as lead bench scorer Anfernee Simons. The Clippers, in turn, are still missing savvy veteran Nicolas Batum. If it’s a matter of depth and injury, this may be enough to tip the scales in the Clippers favor. But then again, nothing is secured without execution.
A loss would put the Clippers below .500; a win would be a welcome start to building momentum as the team continues to round into shape. Both teams come into this game with their identity: either as a sound, defensive team or a quick, offensive team. Expect a great game on Monday, on one side of the floor, at least.