The LAClippers have had a full two days off, a true luxury this season, and after dropping their last two games, could probably have used a beat to get ready for the next game, Saturday evening against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center.
With both teams bound for the playoffs but jockeying for seeding at this point, this is a good late-season test ahead of the start of the postseason.
When: Saturday, May 1 at 7 p.m. PT
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: ESPN, Bally Sports West
Opposing perspective: Denver Stiffs
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers (43-21): Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann, Paul George, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr.
Nuggets (42-21): Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokic, PJ Dozier, Facundo Campazzo
Clippers: Patrick Beverley (hand), Serge Ibaka (back), Amir Coffey (health & safety protocols) — OUT; Kawhi Leonard (foot) — QUESTIONABLE
Nuggets: Jamal Murray (knee), Monte Morris (hamstring), Will Barton (hamstring) — OUT; Zeke Nnaji (ankle) — QUESTIONABLE
The Clippers were last in action on Wednesday, when they lost against the Phoenix Suns on the road. That came after a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, halting a run in which the Clippers were winning nearly every game and with nearly any lineup on the court on a given night.
But the absence of Kawhi Leonard is likely for the best in the long run if he can get healthy for the playoffs, but the recent losses have shown that a team that can run pretty deep won’t necessarily get the job done every night, hence the need for superstars in the first place.
The Nuggets will be without Jamal Murray for this game and the rest of the season, after a major knee injury, which will be a blow for the team overall. But Nikola Jokic is breaking the mold with his play and Michael Porter Jr. is taking a big step up as the perimeter scoring option this season, and the Nuggets are not a team to be trifled with, to be sure.
The teams are 1-1 on the season so far so this game will determine the tiebreaker, if necessary. Also, LA need to win to keep the No. 3 seed in the West so if that’s not motivation I don’t know what will be. Having said that, Leonard is officially listed as questionable but it’s unclear if Ty Lue will throw him into the fray straightaway or give him a little more time to get healthy. We’ll see, but either way this will likely be a good tune-up for both teams ahead of the playoffs.