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Clippers vs. Bucks preview and game thread: A clash of contenders

This game is a good measuring stick of LA’s recent progress.

Los Angeles Clippers v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Clippers are currently in their best stretch of play since January, when they won seven straight games, all within the state of California. Now, the team is on a five-game streak featuring two road wins, and they’ve been without at least two starters the entire time.

Ever since the demolition by New Orleans, the Clippers have been a transformed team. They lead the league in net rating, are second in offensive rating, and are fifth in defense. They also have the lowest turnover percentage in the league over the past two weeks and the highest defensive rebounding percentage. Starting Ivica Zubac likely has something to do with a few of those statistics.

The Clippers are benefiting from some shooting luck. League average effective field-goal percentage (which adjusts for the fact that threes are worth more points) is 53.7 percent this year, and LA has five players above 60 percent over the past two weeks: Terance Mann, Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr., and then Luke Kennard and Patrick Patterson both topping 70 percent. That might not be sustainable, but consider that Paul George has been at 46.9 percent recently, and it’s clear that these things even themselves out.

Game Information

When: Monday, Mar. 29 at 7 p.m. PT

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

How to watch/listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 Radio, NBA TV

Opposing perspective: Brew Hoop

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers (31-16): Reggie Jackson, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr.

Bucks (29-16): Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Donte DiVincenzo


Clippers: Serge Ibaka (back tightness), Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness), Rajon Rondo (right adductor) — OUT

Bucks: Rodions Kurucs (abdominal), Bobby Portis (health and safety), P.J. Tucker (left calf) — OUT

All said, it’s a good time to face off against Milwaukee, who, like LA, is in third place in its conference. This recent stretch of good play has come against some overmatched opponents, but the Bucks are an honest to goodness contender and present a stiff test for the Clippers. The game in Milwaukee seemed to be the low point of LA’s pre-All-Star Break lull. The team was at full strength, yet had familiar problems of not getting to the rim and being unable to draw free throws, and they blew a close game late. After the game, Ty Lue quipped, “All these people acting like the world’s over.”

Now, the Clippers get a chance to prove that they are better than that version of themselves, and that this latest streak of strong play will hold up against championship-level opposition. As Paul George said before the prior game, the Bucks have had LA’s number. Will that still be the case?

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