Making a quick pivot after a fasten-your-seatbelts win in Rip City, the L.A. Clippers (41-19) return to Staples Center looking to take the season series from the middling Memphis Grizzlies (29-27) Wednesday night. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Grizzlies game preview.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies Game Information
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: 7 p.m. PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal, NBA TV, AM 570 L.A. Sports, 1330 AM Tu Liga
Projected Starting Lineups:
L.A. Clippers: Terance Mann – Luke Kennard – Amir Coffey – Marcus Morris Sr. – Ivica Zubac
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant – Grayson Allen – Dillon Brooks – Kyle Anderson – Xavier Tillman
L.A. Clippers: Patrick Beverley – OUT (Left Hand Fourth Metacarpal Fracture), Paul George – OUT (Rest), Serge Ibaka – OUT (Lower Back Tightness), Reggie Jackson – OUT (Rest), Kawhi Leonard – OUT (Right Foot Soreness), Rajon Rondo – OUT (Right Wrist Inflammation),
Memphis Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks – QUESTIONABLE (Left Thigh Soreness), Jaren Jackson Jr. – QUESTIONABLE (Left Knee Meniscus Surgery Recovery), Jonas Valančiūnas – OUT (NBA Concussion Protocol)
The Big Picture
After escaping Portland with their ninth win in the last 10 games, the Clippers are the hottest team in the NBA as they continue to make a late season push for the Phoenix Suns’ No. 2 seed. Although their historic high-volume 3-point shooting fell flat on Tuesday, the Clippers showed their grit once again as Paul George’s heroics coupled with important contributions from Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins willed them to the same end result. As head coach Ty Lue emphasized once again after the game, this year’s Clipper team has fully embraced its new offensive system and shown that on nights like Thursday’s, when a lot of their usual looks just didn’t go down, they can still battle through and find ways to stay in it.
With the Suns continuing their tough Eastern Conference escapade in Philadelphia tonight, the Clippers will have plenty of motivation to take care of business against the Grizzlies. However, that isn’t to say that it should be easy. L.A. will once again be down three starters, at the very least, and playing in the second game of a back-to-back for the 12th time this season (10-1).
Currently sitting in eighth in the west, the Grizzlies will be visiting the Clippers for the first and only time this season after the teams split a pair of games at the FedEx Forum back in February. Despite what has been a similarly difficult season from a health standpoint for Memphis, the Grizzlies have carved out a plus .500 record that’s good for the 14th best win percentage in the league. If Memphis’ most recent 139-137 loss in Denver is any sign of their formidable capabilities, the Grizzlies’ double-digit wins over the Bucks, Heat and 76ers in April, as well as their blowout win over LAC earlier in the year, should give Clipper fans some cause for concern.
Par for the course this year, it appears Jaren Jackson Jr. is as closest as he’s been to making his season debut against the Clippers tonight. A terrifying modern 3-and-D big man when healthy, Jackson Jr. put up 17.4 points, 2.5 threes, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his 2019-20 sophomore campaign before suffering a knee injury in the Orlando bubble. While Jackson Jr. will surely be limited if he indeed does take the floor, his running mate, Ja Morant, should be set to fire on all cylinders. The reigning Rookie of the Year’s shooting efficiency has dropped off quite a bit, especially from beyond the arc (27.7% 3PT), in his second season after suffering a Grade 2 ankle sprain at the beginning of the year. However, after having four performances of at least 30 points against other contenders in the Bucks, Jazz (2) and Nuggets since then, Morant has still shown his fearlessness as one of the league’s rising stars.
Clippers vs. Grizzlies Game Notes
- Health X-Factor: With Leonard out, it will be interesting to see if that has any effect on the status of George, who’s still managing a bone edema in his right foot. PG-13 has sat out at least game in each of the Clippers’ last two back-to-backs, so a gameday scratch here would greatly shift the outlook of the game. One of many calls that NBA official Scott Foster missed Tuesday night, Rondo got kicked in the hip on a Carmelo Anthony three. While Rondo ended up able to close the game if need be, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the Clippers play it safe here, if necessary, with Rondo having dealt with some right adductor soreness just earlier in the month.
Update: The Clippers will be extremely shorthanded tonight as George, Jackson and Rondo are all gameday scratches against Memphis. While PG-13 and Big Government are listed out for rest, Rondo suffered a wrist injury against Portland but it appears to be a day-to-day issue according to The Athletic.
- DeMore I See It, DeMore I Like It: With Memphis missing Valančiūnas, who’s arguably been the Grizzlies’ best player this season, Cousins should have another opportunity to see some meaningful time on the floor. As Xavier Tillman elevates to the Grizzlies’ starting lineup once again, Memphis will look to the 6-foot-8 Brandon Clarke to anchor their small-ball second unit’s defense.
- Outlier April Offenses: In the month of April, the only NBA team to have a higher offensive rating than the Clippers (119.1) is the Memphis Grizzlies (120.0). However, while the Clippers’ 11th ranked defensive rating (110.6) in the month matches their season-long placement, the Grizzlies’ ninth ranked season-long defensive rating (110.1) drops to 23rd in the scope of April (113.1). Memphis is 15-3 when shooting at or above 50% from the field and 16-4 when making more threes than their opponent. The Clippers are 24-2 and 36-8 in the same marks, respectively.
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