The Clippers’ Grammys trip continues on in Cleveland, as the Clippers visit the likewise-hot Cavaliers. Check out our preview below:
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, Ohio
When: 4:00 PM PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: James Harden – Paul George – Terance Mann – Kawhi Leonard – Ivica Zubac
Cavaliers: Donavan Mitchell – Max Strus – Issac Okoro – Dean Wade – Jarrett Allen
Clippers: Paul George, Probable (Groin); Ivica Zubac, Out (Calf); Moussa Diabate Out (Hand); Jordan Miller, Doubtful (Achilles)
Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, Out (Knee); Darius Garland, Out (Jaw); Ty Jerome, Out (Ankle)
The Big Picture
The Clippers took care of business in Boston with surprising dominance. Most teams go into the second game of a road back-to-back with an excuse in their back pocket: it’s just a schedule loss; it’s OK if we do not have it tonight. Well, the Clippers did not adopt that mentality; instead, they punched first (and second and third) while keeping everyone under 30 minutes.
The Clippers will need those legs against this Cavaliers team, but they do have a talent advantage. The Cavaliers will be without Even Mobley and Darius Garland—two of their best players. Moreover, Cleveland does not have a clear set of individual defenders who can take on Harden, George, or (especially) Kawhi.
The Cavaliers are rolling right now: They have won nine of their last ten, are 15-8 at home (the Clippers are just 11-10 on the road), and have beaten the Bucks twice in the last two weeks. Moreover, their team defense is third overall over the course of the season and they are obviously not missing Mobley and Garland too much over the last few weeks. With a home court and pretty big rest advantage, the Cavaliers will be a tough opponent.
Standings Watch: The Clippers got a massive assist from the Detroit Pistons, who beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. That means, going into Monday’s slate of games, the Clippers are tied with the Thunder and Timberwolves in the loss column (14 losses each). Because the Clippers have played two fewer games than both of those teams, LA is still one game back overall, putting them in the third seed. Moreover, the Clipper do not have much space behind them, as the Nuggets are just a half-game back in the fourth seed. While the Clippers have been on an incredible run, they still have a lot of work to do to cement themselves as a lock for a top-two seed. Oh, and hopefully this is a reminder not to take the Piston lightly when they see them this trip.
VIBES: One cliche that comes up every year is the idea that road trips are an opportunity to build “chemistry.” The Clippers clearly have chemistry on the court, but hopefully they are getting an opportunity to have fun and build friendships. Although things have gone well so far, it is undeniable that James Harden and Russell Westbrook have been prickly (to put it charitably) in other situations. Keeping things light and collaborative will be important for when the Clippers inevitably hit a rough patch in the second half of the season.