Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
When: 4:30 PM PT
How to Watch/Listen: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Landry Shamet – Rodney McGruder – Paul George – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac
Cavs: Darius Garland – Collin Sexton – Cedi Osman – Kevin Love – Andre Drummond
Clippers: Pat Beverley Doubtful (Groin), Kawhi Leonard Doubtful (Load Management), Marcus Morris Probable (Trade)
Cavs: Ante Zicic Out (Vertigo), Dylan Windler Out (Leg), Andre Drummond Probable (Trade)
The Big Picture
The Clippers are coming off one of their worst losses of the season last night to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their effort was subpart from the start, and resulted in some of their most ineffective defense of the year. The Wolves hit an incredible 26 threes (second behind the Rockets’ 27 for most in NBA history) and probably could have cracked 150 points if the game had been even remotely close. The Clippers didn’t have new acquisition Marcus Morris or heart-of-the-team Pat Beverley, but that’s no excuse for the kind of effort we saw yesterday. Again, those performances aren’t really indicative of anything, necessarily, but the lack of effort (and fight in a comeback) are irritating and not fun to watch.
The Cavaliers are bad yet again, and in the midst of a rebuild. Veteran presences from the LeBron James era are slowly being sloughed away, with only Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr., and Matthew Dellevadova left as remnants of a more glorious time. The rest of the team skews younger, with much of the franchise hopes in the hands of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. While each guard has shown promise, their defense has been rough, and neither is a starting-level playmaker yet. However, the addition of Andre Drummond and his presence as a rim runner should help both guards get space for their own shots and give them an easy target on the roll. Drummond might be a player with better stats than impact, but getting him for two veteran expiring contracts and a second round pick is a good deal for the Cavs.
Bounce back Strong: The Clippers, as mentioned above, have had quite a few highly disappointing losses this year. Fortunately, they have mostly come back well from those defeats, with improved effort and execution usually leading to strong victories. It’s frustrating that they have to have a bad loss every couple weeks to seemingly motivate them back into high gear, but many veteran championship-level teams have operated similarly in the past. As long as the Clippers can find a higher gear consistently when it matters, these regular season losses won’t matter.
Getting Shamet Going: Outside of simple effort, one of the biggest indicators of the Clippers’ success in a given game is Landry Shamet’s level of involvement. When Shamet gets a lot of shots up in the flow of the offense, the Clippers look good. His ability to create havoc off the ball opens the game up for everyone else, and when he’s dropping down threes the Clippers’ offense is far more free-flowing and dangerous. In games where he can’t get in a rhythm or is shut down, the offense stagnates. It’s very similar to the Lob City Clippers with J.J. Redick, and not in a good way. Shamet has flashed some creation ability, but it’s something he doesn’t seem fully ready for yet. It would be great if that leap could take place this season, as it would help the Clippers quite a bit, but it could be a year too early.
Marcus Morris’ Debut: This game will, in all likelihood, mark the Clippers’ debut of Marcus Morris. Morris has been coveted by the Clippers for some time, and his size and shooting makes him an ideal starting four next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Morris next to that lineup today due to Kawhi’s load management, but Morris’ shooting and shot creation will be needed more than ever with Leonard and Pat Beverley out. It will probably take him a while to get used to his teammates, especially defensively, but he has the type of game offensively that is easily transportable from team to team, so he could absolutely go off on offense in this one. It will be exciting to see him don a Clippers uniform for the first time, and the Clippers could get a big morale boost as well.