The Clippers take on the star-studded Nets in one of the marquee games of the season thus far, as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George square off against James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. Check out the full game preview of the Clippers’ showdown against the Nets below.
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
When: 5:00 PM PST
How to watch: TNT
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka
Nets: Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan
Clippers: Patrick Beverley OUT (knee), Nicolas Batum QUESTIONABLE (groin)
Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie OUT (knee), Nic Claxton OUT (knee), Tyler Johnson QUESTIONABLE (Health + safety protocols)
The Big Picture
The Clippers are playing arguably their best basketball since assembling a team around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The team has won 10 of their last 11 games, with the only loss coming without Kawhi, PG, and Pat Bev. There aren’t many individual games throughout the course of a season that truly serve as a barometer, but this is certainly one of them. The Clippers’ offense is currently second to none in the Western Conference, and over the last 10 games, their defense has been catching up. During this stretch of games, the Clippers have the league’s 4th best defense, which has helped propel them to 10th in the NBA on the season. Although they will be without All-NBA defender Patrick Beverley, their improved defense will have an opportunity to show its teeth against a Brooklyn team that leads the league in ORTG since acquiring James Harden.
As previously mentioned, the Brooklyn Nets head the entire NBA in ORTG since adding James Harden; however, that has also come with a major downside. The Nets are truly a story of two extremes. While their offense has been the league’s best since acquiring Harden, their defense has been 3rd worst in the entire NBA. The 118.0 DRTG they’ve posted in the last 10 games is only behind Sacramento and New Orleans for the league’s worst mark. Up against a Clippers’ offense that is rolling, Brooklyn will need to do a better job defensively than they have in their last few games. With that being said, this is a team with so much firepower that often times their lack of defensive prowess does not outweigh their offensive dominance. Similar to the Clippers’ outlook on this game, Brooklyn can certainly use this contest as a barometer to test how they matchup with the league’s best team.
Superstars: All eyes will be on the superstars in this game, and there is no shortage of them. With Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving all set to play, the stars will be out in full force. While each of their individual performances will be microscopically critiqued, there will also be a microscope placed on who defends who. With Kawhi and PG playing All-NBA level defense this season, they will certainly be tasked with chasing around Brooklyn’s best players. In a game filled with so much star power, the outcome could very likely be dependent on who shines the brightest.
Guarding Kevin Durant: To pretend like anybody on planet earth has the ability to stop Kevin Durant would be absurd, but when it comes to slowing him down, few players have done a better job at doing so than Paul George. In the 2018-19 season, which is the last time Paul George saw KD, he held him to just 17 points on 36.8% from the field in the 51 possessions he guarded him. It is worth mentioning that PG finished 3rd in DPOY voting that season, and it is also worth mentioning that PG has looked every bit as good defensively this season as he did that season. With Kevin Durant averaging 30 PPG on the season, the Clippers will be pleased with simply keeping him below that average in this matchup.
Reggie’s Good Play: With Patrick Beverley out, Reggie Jackson has been a star in his role. Since Pat went down with a knee injury, Reggie has averaged 16 PPG, 6 RPG, and 5 APG, on 48% from the field and 41.7% from deep. Perhaps the most impressive part about Reggie’s play is that he is averaging just 1.5 turnovers per game during this stretch. While the Clippers do not expect him to fill Pat’s defensive shoes, Reggie has been everything the team could ask for and more on the offensive end. The Clippers will need this version of Reggie Jackson against Brooklyn with Patrick Beverley sidelined again.
That’s it for this preview of the Clippers’ big game against the Nets. Give your thoughts on the game in the comments below!