With the convincing win against Trae Young and the Hawks, the Clippers resembled the team they were at the beginning of the season: poised, consistent, and hungry. Perhaps it arose from Ty Lue’s pre-game talk with the team, or maybe it came from those who stepped up, like Amir Coffey, spreading a contagious energy that resulted in a much-needed victory. Regardless of where that vigor came from, it’s clear that the Clippers rediscovered what made them stand out from the rest of the crowd in the Western Conference.
But applying that to opponents as elite as Nikola Jokić and the Nuggets is another challenge in and of itself.
Let’s not forget the impressive stat line that Jokić was able to record in the box score during the most recent Clippers-Nuggets matchup. Although the game might be most remembered for Jokić’s “Shaqtin’ a Fool” moment, he scored 26 points and grabbed 22 rebounds, ending the game just two assists shy of a triple-double. That game was competitive despite the performance from the Joker, which should give some hope to Clipper fans and players alike.
In fact, when looking at the trajectory of players like Coffey and Serge Ibaka, it’s hard not to feel confident in the team’s supporting cast. Coffey’s performance against the Hawks showed just how much he’s matured into the versatile two-way wing every team desires. Not only is his scoring prowess well-rounded (he shoots nearly 40 percent from distance), but he has shown flashes of playmaking skills on the offensive end. His defense can’t go ignored either, as his size and build allows him to effectively matchup on both the perimeter and the block. Ibaka has shown a tremendous amount of consistency immediately after his return from injury. He’s demonstrated an improved jumpshot (he’s shooting above 40 percent from three) and has shown flashes of his former self on the defensive end.
Despite this, the Clippers can’t take the Nuggets for granted. They will seek to build off of their momentum from their previous win, but there’s still a long way to go before the playoff picture comes a bit more in focus, so it’s important that the Clippers steady the ship as wins become more and more urgent.
When: Tuesday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m. PT
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: Denver Stiffs
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Nuggets: Facundo Campazzo, Austin Rivers, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokić
Clippers: Paul George, Isaiah Hartenstein, Luke Kennard, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston, Justise Winslow — OUT
Nuggets: Will Barton, Vlatko Cancar, Michael Porter Jr., Markus Howard, P.J. Dozier, Jamal Murray — OUT