The Clippers have been cautious with managing their personnel throughout the season, and the latest decision to bench Kawhi Leonard for at least a week while he nurses a sore right foot underscores that sentiment.
On the second night of a back-to-back — one that required travel from Portland to Los Angeles — it stands to reason that the Clippers will once again be sitting some of the 30-and-over crew, especially with the team set to travel to Houston tomorrow. Paul George is the likeliest rest candidate, as he played almost 37 minutes last night and hasn’t suited up for consecutive games in four weeks. Whatever the Clippers and George are doing has been working, so expect that to continue, with Luke Kennard and Terance Mann stepping into the starting lineup in place of the All-Star wings.
Ty Lue also said before the Portland game that Rajon Rondo was still on a minutes restriction and that Rondo is “sometimes” being held out of back-to-backs, which is why the team signed Yogi Ferrell for some point guard depth. Ferrell should be in line to make his Clippers debut, his first action since playing on March 3 in the G League bubble.
When: Wednesday, April 21 at 7 p.m. PT
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal
Opposing perspective: Grizzly Bear Blues
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers (41-19): Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr.
Grizzlies (29-27): Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Xavier Tillman Sr.
Clippers: Patrick Beverley (right knee), Serge Ibaka (lower back), Kawhi Leonard (foot) — OUT
Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks (left thigh) — QUESTIONABLE; Jonas Valanciunas (concussion) — OUT
While the Clippers will be operating a bit shorthanded, the Grizzlies are set to welcome a key member of their roster back: Jaren Jackson Jr. Jackson, who hasn’t played since the NBA bubble last August, is officially listed as questionable, but his recent Twitter activity would suggest that the third-year big is ready for his return.
Jackson has historically played well against the Clippers, the threat of his 3-point shot often causing some difficulty for the more paint-bound Ivica Zubac. Given that this is his first game action in eight months, it’s unreasonable to expect Jackson to have a positive impact. Nevertheless, the energy boost he brings to Memphis will probably be palpable.
The Clippers split their last two meetings against the Grizzlies, a two-game set back in February. Memphis owned the paint in the first matchup, which led to Lue being about as mad as he has been as the head coach due to his team’s lack of physicality. The Clippers responded to that punch on the next night, but they don’t have the luxury of a rematch this time around. They can’t let the Grizzlies hit first.
This isn’t a rivalry like it was last decade, but Memphis still has a lot of play for with regards to playoff seeding, and there’s no counting the Clippers out, even when the roster has been thinned out. Enjoy the game, and comment below!