In the midst of a five-game losing skid, the LA Clippers (33-33) face the Memphis Grizzlies (38-24) for the first time in over a year Sunday night. Read on for our full preview of the Clippers’ game against the Grizzlies.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies Game Information
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
When: 7 p.m. PT
How to Tune in: ESPN, Bally Sports SoCal, ClipperVision, AM 570 KLAC, KWKW
Projected Starting Lineups
LA Clippers: Russell Westbrook – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris Sr. – Ivica Zubac
Memphis Grizzlies: Tyus Jones – Desmond Bane – David Roddy – Jaren Jackson Jr. – Xavier Tillman Sr.
LA Clippers: Brandon Boston Jr. – OUT (G League – On Assignment), Moussa Diabate – OUT (G League – Two-Way), Xavier Moon – OUT (G League – Two-Way), Norman Powell – OUT (Left Shoulder Subluxation), Jason Preston – OUT (G League – On Assignment), Ivica Zubac – QUESTIONABLE (Right Calf Soreness)
Memphis Grizzlies: Steven Adams – OUT (Right Knee; PCL Sprain), Dillon Brooks – OUT (League Suspension), Brandon Clarke – OUT (Left Achilles Tear), Jake LaRavia – DOUBTFUL (Back Soreness), Ja Morant – OUT (Not With Team), Vince Williams Jr. – DOUBTFUL (Right Shoulder Soreness),
Update: The Grizzlies have downgraded both Jake LaRavia (Back Soreness) and Vince Williams Jr. (Right Shoulder Soreness) to DOUBTFUL.
Update No. 2: Per Tyronn Lue, Ivica Zubac will be AVAILABLE tonight with a minutes restriction.
The Big Picture
The Clippers’ season has spiraled out of control since the All-Star break with five straight losses to projected Western Conference playoff teams. The latest defeat, a 128-127 heartbreaker in Sacramento, was a valiant effort though as LAC’s hodgepodge of nine available players ended up a catch away from stealing the win. Unfortunately, moral victories don’t amount to much in the NBA as the West’s lone winless team post-All-Star break now sits right at .500 with just 16 games left to go — a truly tough mark to grasp considering how high expectations appeared to be for the team back in October. It’s been “not the Clippers’ night” on a lot of nights this season and even with the team now free-falling down the standings, it remains to be seen how bad this thing can get before it gets better. With health further deteriorating what was already a rhythmless group, all you can really ask for from the Clippers at this point is to win however necessary and stop the bleeding. They’ll have another great opportunity to do just that tonight, but as shown just over the past week, LAC is far from a lock to close out the games they should win.
Tonight’s game marks the beginning of a sorely needed five-game homestand for LAC, and it also comes against the last team they’ve yet to see this season. While the opponents coming up still aren’t exactly cakewalks, 11 of the final 16 regular-season games for LAC will be played at home, and they won’t have to leave the Pacific Time Zone again until March 29. Additionally, they don’t have another back-to-back until March 31-April 1. If the Clippers want to do what they’ve seemingly believed all year — get ourselves right and we can beat anybody — this simply has to be the time to start showing it.
The Memphis Grizzlies head into this one after sustaining a series of blows in the past 48 hours. Dillon Brooks picked up his 16th technical foul of the season in the 4th quarter of the Grizzlies’ collapse in Denver Friday, resulting in an automatic one-game suspension. On Saturday morning, the Grizzlies announced that Ja Morant will be away from the team for at least the next two games; the situation remains under investigation by the NBA. Hours later, the team announced that Brandon Clarke suffered a season-ending left Achilles tear against the Nuggets. Coupling these developments with the absence of Steven Adams, who’s been out since Jan. 22, the Grizzlies suddenly find themselves down four of their core rotation guys.
Nevertheless, two of Memphis’ proverbial big three will be active for the team’s first meeting against the Clippers tonight with free runway to wreak havoc. Jaren Jackson Jr. has arguably been the frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year award, staying relatively healthy after missing the Grizzlies’ first 14 games and blocking a league-best 3.3 shots per game. Desmond Bane has struggled to stay on the court a bit this season, notably missing 17 games with a grade 2 sprained right big toe and sesamoid injury early in the season — an ailment that the third-year guard said will “probably have to get taken care of in the offseason.” Despite the bumps and bruises, Bane is averaging career-highs just about across the board and remains a highly efficient shooter.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies Game Notes
- The Start of Something, Lue?: Before the Clippers’ Feb. 28 loss to Minnesota, Tyronn Lue said he needed two to three games to experiment with the rotations. Well, that “evaluation period” appears to be over as promised. The Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Greif reported Saturday that the Clippers “have been preparing with an expectation that power forward Marcus Morris Sr. is on his way out of the starting lineup.” Whether it’s with Eric Gordon, Nicolas Batum, Terance Mann, or Robert Covington, it appears tonight could reveal who the Clippers view as their new starting wing moving forward.
- Let’s Get Serious: Over their five-game slide, the Clippers are 28th in turnovers per game (17.2), 23rd in rebounds per game (33.2) and (unofficially) first in second-half mental lapses. Seriously though, it’s cliché, but the Clippers need to sharpen up and do a respectable job of limiting their self-inflicted wounds: unforced giveaways, missed box-outs, egregious steal attempts, etc. If not, add this one to the list with the losses against the Timberwolves and Warriors.
- Preventing Wildfires: There are two Grizzlies that appear primed to see a major jump in minutes. The obvious one is Tyus Jones, who just might be the best backup point guard in the NBA depending on how you view Malcolm Brogdon and Jordan Poole. In nine starts this season, Jones is averaging 18.8 points (51.9% FG, 47.5% 3PT), 3.6 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.44 steals in 33.2 minutes. The second, unfortunately, is the Nard Dog. Luke Kennard appeared in 168 games (41 starts) in parts of three seasons with the Clippers and averaged 9.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 23.1 minutes before he was traded to Memphis on Feb. 6. Through six games with the Grizzlies, Cool Hand Luke has averaged 6.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
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