Sitting just above .500 with a 36-35 record, the Clippers seem to be stuck in the eighth seed as the playoff scene begins to materialize. However, momentum might prove to be an important factor in the context of the play-in tournament, where a single bad game could throw a wrench into any other playoff plans. The upcoming matchup against the 38-30 Raptors could be a good test for the Clippers, who have been unable to get into a rhythm since their five game winning streak ended earlier this month.
The Raptors aren’t a team to gloss over—they hold the second best offensive rebounding percentage and the fifth best turnover percentage across the league. Those two areas are not exactly strong points for the Clippers. However, that’s exactly why the Raptors might prove to be an important matchup for the aspirational (but shorthanded) LA team. It will force Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein to continue making an impact down low, as they did against the Cavaliers in their recent overtime loss. In that game, Zubac grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 24 points on 75 percent shooting in an impressive double double performance. Hartenstein also played well in 19 minutes off the bench, with 10 points, six rebounds, three assists, and a steal and a block each all without a single miss from the field.
When: Wednesday, March 16 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: Raptors HQ
Spread: Raptors -1.5, Clippers +1.5
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Raptors: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Precious Achiuwa
Clippers: Robert Covington, Norman Powell, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston, Jay Scrubb — OUT
Raptors: Malachi Flynn, OG Anunoby — OUT
The Raptors will certainly approach the game with a similar mindset, as their seventh-seed status puts them right on the edge of the play-in tournament, with a clear path to the sixth seed. Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes are two players who can bang down low while also utilizing their unique guard skills to exploit their defenders, which the Clippers will anticipate. At the end of the day though, both teams will have to address their weaknesses against one another to effectively prepare for their own prospective playoff (or play-in) matchups. And, with Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson slated to return from their time resting, it might prove to be an exciting one to watch.
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