The LA Clippers have another must win game if they want to keep pace in the standings, this time against the visiting Chicago Bulls.

Game Information

Where: Arena, Los Angeles, CA

When: 7:30 PM PT

How to Watch: Clippervision, Bally Sports SoCal

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: Russell Westbrook – Eric Gordon – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris Sr. – Ivica Zubac

Bulls: Patrick Beverley – Zach LaVine – Alex Caruso – DeMar DeRozan – Nikola Vucevic

Injury Report

Clippers: Kawhi Leonard probable (face contusion), Paul George out (right knee), Norman Powell out (left shoulder), Brandon Boston Jr. out (tailbone)

Bulls: Lonzo Ball out (left knee), Javonte Green questionable (knee)

The Big Picture

For a moment, the Clippers moved into the fourth seed in the Western Conference standings, something that didn’t always seem possible given the team’s uneven play since returning from the All-Star break. It was short-lived, however, with the Clippers uninspiring loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday pushing them back to 5th.

The Clippers seemingly managed to avoid total catastrophe though with the news that Kawhi Leonard is probably good to go against the Chicago Bulls. Leonard took a hit to the face against the Pelicans and did not return after exiting the game. This team has been incredibly reliant on Leonard. He had an off-game against the Pelicans, and well, you saw what the result was.

The Clippers got some help in the standings as well on Sunday in the form of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves beat the Golden State Warriors, 99-96, and thus kept the Warriors from overtaking the Clippers in the standings for fifth.

With the Clippers not having the tie-breaker against pretty much every team close to them in the standings, they need to get as much separation as possible. That’s why this Bulls game is so huge. Chicago will be on the second game of a back-to-back and the Clippers should be well rested.

They should also want to wipe the bitter taste of the Pelicans loss out of their mouths. Finishing ahead of the Suns and grabbing the fourth seed, thus ensuring them homecourt in the first round of the playoffs, is still doable.

The Antagonist

The Chicago Bulls being in town brings along a familiar face for the Clippers. Fan-favorite Patrick Beverley is running the point for the Bulls and the team has been playing much better since signing him on the buyout market.

The Bulls are 10-5 since signing Beverley and they are keeping pace in the Eastern Conference standings. They hold a two and a half game lead over the Indiana Pacers for the final play-in spot and they still have a shot to finish as high as eighth. They have something to play for. Even on a back-to-back they’re going to be ready to play.

This is a team that has struggled to score at times even with Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. They have been a good defensive team though, and they are currently fifth in the league in defensive rating at 112.4. They just put a beatdown on the Los Angeles Lakers who are also desperately trying to grab a play-in spot.

They’re a bit of an older team though that doesn’t play at such a fast pace. That favors the Clippers more so than the Pelicans. It seems like every game is a must win for the Clippers these days and it’s just tough to predict what type of team will show up. Hopefully the Clippers put forth a better effort, at least.

David Yapkowitz

David Yapkowitz

David is in his sixth season as credentialed media at Los Angeles Clippers games and second season covering the team for 213 Hoops. He also covers the game at the college and high school levels. When his professional basketball dreams did not materialize, he turned to the next best thing, writing about it.

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