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Clippers vs. Pistons preview and game thread: Rotating for wins

Can Clips afford to tweak the lineup again against struggling foe?

NBA: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Clippers are back in a good rhythm, plus with a day of rest, before their next test of this mad dash of a season, with a meeting Sunday night at Staples Center against the Detroit Pistons. In looking through old photos of these teams, both sides appear to have largely or entirely changed their rosters since the last time they played, so we’ll see what the current batch of both teams will show in the Sunday prime time clash.

Game Information

When: Sunday, April 11 at 7 p.m. PT

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal

Opposing perspective: Detroit Bad Boys

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers (36-18): Terance Mann, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac, Reggie Jackson, Paul George

Pistons (17-36): Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Mason Plumlee, Cory Joseph, Dennis Smith, Jr.


Clippers: Serge Ibaka (lower back), Patrick Beverley (hand), Kawhi Leonard (rest) — OUT; Rajon Rondo (adductor) — QUESTIONABLE

Pistons: Jerami Grant (knee), Wayne Ellington (rest) — QUESTIONABLE

LA’s most recent game was a win over the Houston Rockets on Friday, a victory that wasn’t entirely convincing against a pretty ragtag Rockets group aside from a blistering 2nd quarter that gave the Clippers the cushion they needed. Reggie Jackson was spectacular, the guard wearing glasses to protect his eye, and perhaps he may want to wear them from now on, given the night he had.

Paul George was a scratch against the Rockets, for rest purposes, and so was Rajon Rondo, and the Clippers didn’t end up needing them, so it was a worthy risk. This time, Kawhi Leonard has been given the night off in advance, so expect George back in the lineup but Kawhi getting some rest.

The Pistons are enduring yet another difficult season, and it appears they may actively be trying to win the lottery this year, something they’ve never done. Add to that the timing of this game, with Detroit playing the first of a back-to-back Saturday night in Portland against the Trail Blazers, so their rest is going to be quite short indeed. The Pistons and the Rockets are pretty similar these days in terms of roster makeup and the kinds of results they’re getting, but obviously in the NBA you never know when a team gets hot and the Clippers are still risking an embarrassing loss against a weaker opponent with all the players out for this one.

Still, if there’s a time in the season to consciously rotate before the playoff seeding is settled, this is it. After this game on Sunday, the Clippers will play the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and then play the Pistons again on Wednesday, all the games coming in Los Angeles. The Pacers are much better than the Pistons this season, but this is as big of a lull in the schedule as the Clippers are going to get, so they need to pick up the wins and relax while they can.