The Clippers are coming off yet another horrid loss – can they bounce back against the try-hard Bulls?

Game Information

Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

When: 5:00 PM PT

How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570

Tickets: For great deals on Clippers tickets, check out Barry’s Tickets!

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: James Harden – Paul George – Terance Mann – PJ Tucker – Ivica Zubac

Bulls: Coby White – Alex Caruso – Ayo Dosunmu – DeMar DeRozan – Nikola Vucevic

Injuries

Clippers: Russell Westbrook Out (Hand), Kawhi Leonard Questionable (Back), James Harden Questionable (Shoulder)

Bulls: Zach LaVine Out (Foot), Patrick Williams Out (Foot), Lonzo Ball Out (Knee)

The Big Picture

The Clippers keep finding new lows, with a blown 22-point lead ending up in a blowout loss at the hands of the Timberwolves. Worse, Kawhi Leonard left with a back injury – though it fortunately does not seem to be serious. They are just about firmly out of the run of the top 2 seeds, and are in real danger of falling out of the long-held 4 spot. Bigger than the seedings and standings is the Clippers play – where they are at won’t matter if they aren’t playing well. The defense in particular is a mess, especially in transition, and there’s just no excuse for some of the gaffes on that end. The Clippers are not good right now, even though their record has not plummeted much, and they are running out of time to recapture the lightning in the bottle from their 26-5 stretch.

The Antagonist

The Bulls are one of the teams that’s most locked into their relative spot in the standings, as they sit 4.5 games behind the Heat for 8th in the Eastern Conference but are five games ahead of the Nets in 11th. They are exceedingly likely to be in the 9 or 10 seed along with the Hawks, the two East teams most complacent with mediocrity. Still, as the Clippers found out last week when they barely scratched a win over the Bulls, this is a feisty group. DeRozan is still a bucket. Caruso is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. And Coby White is a prime candidate for Most Improved Player. The Bulls aren’t a great home team, but this is certainly no gimme.

Notes

No Rest Zone: The Clippers will have had a day of rest before this game but traveled from LA to Chicago, and will have a game in New Orleans the following day. The Bulls, meanwhile, played a game last night in Indiana that went to overtime and saw their key players all log heavy minutes. Both teams, therefore, will probably be pretty tired and not in the best of best of spirits. The end of the regular season, everyone!
Ivica No Zublocka: Most people’s concerns around the Clippers have been centered on the down play of Paul George, the timidness and lack of burst of James Harden, the injury to Russell Westbrook, or even the ineffectiveness of their backup big men. One of their biggest issues, however, is that starting center Ivica Zubac has not been the same since his injury in January. He averaged just 10 points and 8.1 rebounds in February and is at 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in March so far – after being at over 12 points and 10 rebounds across the first three months of the season. And it’s not just scoring and rebounding, it’s the rim protection that’s faded too. Zubac had 17 blocks in November and 18 in December, yet has amassed just 19 since then across 21 games played. If Zu is not playing at the level he was to start the year, the Clippers lack an interior presence on both ends that makes it very tough for them to excel.

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