The Clippers have had a murderer’s row of opponents over the past week. The Wizards were supposed to be a reprieve to end the home stand, but now they appear feistier than ever.
Washington is on a five-game winning streak, including victories over Boston, Denver, Portland, and the Lakers, vaulting the team into play-in contention (at least in the East). The Wizards were projected to be in the playoff picture at the start of the season, and after a horrific start to the year that included a two-week long health and safety break, Washington is starting to live up to that potential.
The good news for the Clippers is that they’re fully loaded and ready to take on a team that had to go into overtime last night. The Wizards have feasted on some undermanned teams during this streak, but that won’t be the case with the Clippers. LA is also used to facing teams on a roll; this is the fourth straight game they’ll have to face a team that has won at least five in a row.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. PT
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, ESPN, AM 570 Radio
Opposing perspective: Bullets Forever
Projected Starting Lineups:
Clippers (22-10): Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Serge Ibaka, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum
Wizards (11-17): Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Moe Wagner, Rui Hachimura, Garrison Mathews
Wizards: Thomas Bryant (knee), Ish Smith (quad) — OUT
These two teams haven’t met in the regular season since December 2019. Much has changed since then, but the engine for the Wizards is still Bradley Beal. The All-Star starter is leading the league in scoring with 32.9 points per game. When the ball is out of Beal’s hands, the Wizards are hard-pressed to find efficient shot creation, unless it comes from Russell Westbrook barreling down the floor in transition. Westbrook’s game has been hard to watch recently — his shooting splits are ghastly — but he’s been keeping Washington afloat with Beal on the bench and is finally healthy enough to play in a back-to-back, so he could be on the upswing. At the very least, Westbrook against Patrick Beverley is always good theatre.
On LA’s side of things, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are continuing to find their rhythm after a few games out. It will be interesting to see what coach Ty Lue does with the bench rotation today. This could be a good game to dust off Luke Kennard since the Wizards don’t present a lot of defensive challenges with their backup guards.
A key for the Clippers will be limiting Washington’s 3-point volume. They’ll chuck shots from long range with no regard, so cutting down their shooters’ air space should be a point of emphasis.
What else are you looking forward to seeing from the Clippers tonight?