The LA Clippers will visit the Boston Celtics on Thursday evening for the fourth of a five-game road trip. Continue reading for our Clippers-Celtics preview.

Game Information

Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

When: 4:30 p.m. PT

How to Tune in: NBATV, Bally Sports SoCal, ClipperVision, AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups

LA Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac

Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart – Derrick White – Jaylen Brown – Jayson Tatum – Al Horford

Injury Report

Clippers: None

Celtics: Danilo Gallinari (ACL)

The Big Picture

The Clips had entered their December 12 contest with the Celtics fresh off of a four-game road trip that saw Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return from injuries. During the trip, they narrowly pulled out wins against two bad teams (Charlotte and Washington) and came up short in the Florida double-dip (Orlando and Miami). They’d turn the page on an uninspiring trip to trample the then-NBA-best Celtics while changing the narrative around them from both within and outside the fanbase. 

LA’s win was important but not as important as how it came about — Kawhi Leonard played as close to the pre-ACL-injury version of himself as we’d seen to that point, he and Paul George were the two best players on the court, and the Clippers’ depth flexed its muscle. The Clippers parlayed the performance into wins in five of their next seven games (one loss coming to the Suns without Leonard and George) and have set the stage for another big game against the C’s today in Beantown.

The Antagonist

As I mentioned, beating the Celtics the way the Clippers did earlier this month was a turning point. But the truth is that the C’s weren’t adequately equipped to survive LA firing on all cylinders without Al Horford or Robert Williams. Blake Griffin started that contest for Boston but has since reverted back to the end of the bench in favor of the now-healthy Horford and Williams.

The two bigs’ transition back into Joe Mazzulla’s lineup wasn’t seamless, however. Boston lost three straight games (all at home) to inferior opponents but have since responded with three consecutive wins (all double-digits margins) to retake its spot atop the Eastern Conference standings. On the heels of their impressive recent play, the C’s will have everyone available for Thursday’s opportunity to bounce back against a Clippers team that outplayed them in Los Angeles.

Clippers vs. Celtics Game Notes

  • Depth: Unless Danilo Gallinari returns from an ACL injury at some point this season, this is about as whole as either team will be. Many this offseason recognized the Clippers and Celtics for their depth and talent from top to bottom. Now, after injuries took a toll during the first part of the season, they’re finally in positions to get creative with lineups and overwhelm opposing teams for 48 minutes. We’ll see what that looks like against one another in today’s game.
  • Superstars vs. Superstars: Depth is cool (and important, when used responsibly), but if the superstar players don’t live up to the billing, everything else is pretty worthless. The two times all four of Tatum, Brown, Leonard and George have played in the same game, the Clippers’ duo has outplayed Boston’s to earn victories. The challenge will be tougher for LA as the Celtics roll out a more balanced team than the prior meeting, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Clippers’ two stars operate this time.
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