After Monday’s embarrassment, even a regular old loss at the hands of a good team seems like a fine outcome for the perpetually perplexed Clippers.
Where: Golden One Center, Sacramento, California
When: 7:00 PM PT
How to Watch: NBA TV, KTLA, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: James Harden – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Terance Mann – Ivica Zubac
Kings: De’Aaron Fox – Kevin Huerter – Chris Duarte – Harrison Barnes – Domantas Sabonis
Clippers: Mason Plumlee Out (Knee), Brandon Boston Jr. Out (Quad)
Kings: Keegan Murray Questionable (Back), Alex Len Out (Ankle)
The Big Picture
The Clippers are coming off probably the worst loss of the season and one of the worst losses of the 4+ year 213 era. There’s not much to say about the Nuggets’ game that hasn’t already been said, but the Clippers should be coming out angry and ferocious tonight. For as discombobulated as the Clippers have looked at times this year, the raw effort and focus has mostly been ok, but the Nuggets game was a big step back. Can they rectify that in this game? The Clippers are two games under .500 and in 11th place in the West, and while the season is still young, it’s getting to the point where top teams are creating some separation. The Clippers cannot dilly dally around.
The Kings are more or less as expected 16 games into the season. They’re an above .500 team that is in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. However, after having an extremely potent offense and lousy defense last year, the Kings are more balanced, ranking 13th in offensive rating and 17th in defensive rating. Their offense will probably creep upwards, but if they can maintain a solid-ish defense they will be a playoff team in the West. De’Aaron Fox is expanding upon his breakout last season with a monster campaign, as he’s at around 30 points per game on much improved three point shooting. They’re a tough out, especially at home in Sacramento.
Keegan Swing: Keegan Murray’s availability is a big deal for this game. Murray is a good player who normally starts for the Kings, so his might be obvious, but he’s really important for their defense on bigger wings. If he’s out, Harrison Barnes will be on Kawhi Leonard, which means Paul George will have a much smaller defender on him. The Kings don’t really have any such defenders off their bench either outside of maybe Trey Lyles who’s a bit on the slow side, so the Clippers star players should be able to get favorable switches and bully smaller defenders in the post. If Murray does play, that eliminates a weak link.
Attack the Rim: Domantas Sabonis is a very good player, and has improved on defense, but he’s no rim protector. The Kings’ backup center is JaVale McGee, who’s about 100 and has lost multiple steps. There’s no reason the Clippers shouldn’t be able to attack the basket over and over again. Instead of settling for jumpers, even off of good movement, they should try to force the issue and put pressure on the rim. Getting other teams into foul trouble would be a nice change.