The Clippers take on the Nets at home with both teams having had a nice rest since their previous contests.
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
When: 1:000 PM PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal
Projected Starting Lineups
Nets: Edmond Sumner – Joe Harris – Royce O’Neale – Kevin Durant – Nic Claxton
Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Luke Kennard – Paul George – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac
Nets: Kyrie Irving Out (Suspended)
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard Out (Knee), Jason Preston Out (G-League), Moussa Diabate Out (G-League), Brandon Boston Jr. Out (G-League)
The Big Picture
After sitting at an unpleasant 2-4 record in the middle of a dreadful four-game losing streak, the Clippers have righted the ship, winning five of their last six games. Their offense remains fairly terrible, albeit better than before, but their defense has been extremely stout, and they’ve received increased contributions from down the roster in more recent games. However, the two keys have been Paul George’s superstar level play on both ends and Ivica Zubac anchoring the team on defense and on the glass. When those two guys are in the game, the Clippers look good. At all other times, things are shaky. The Clips do now officially have seven players averaging double figures scoring, which is fun, and hopefully the guards – Norm Powell, Reggie Jackson, and John Wall – can continue boosting their efficiency to non-awful levels.
The Nets have been a mess this season, riddled with three different sagas. The resolved one is Steve Nash as head coach, as he mutually left the team a week and a half ago, replaced by Jacque Vaughn. Then there’s star ballhandler Kyrie Irving, who is suspended for his promotion of and non-apology for (until it was far too late) a blatantly and violently anti-Semitic film. Finally, there’s other star ball-handler Ben Simmons, who has been in and out of the lineup with injury, and still refuses to look at the rim much on offense. Kevin Durant is still great, and the returns of Seth Curry and Joe Harris have added some needed shooting. Still, the Nets are small, they’re weak on the glass, and they lack plus perimeter defenders. Until they get Simmons right and can get Kyrie on the court, they’ll probably be a middling if still dangerous squad.
No RoCo: Robert Covington was a DNP-CD in the Clippers’ last game, and Ty Lue said after the game that he’s rolling with a nine-man rotation for now. I really don’t like this. Not only is Robert Covington good – I’d argue the best non-Kawhi forward on the roster – but the Clippers are an older team, and they have guys already racking up minutes. I like that the Clips are chasing wins, but Paul George playing 35.8 minutes and Marcus Morris 31.7 is not good considering their age. Also, for as well as Marcus Morris has played this year, he’s simply not good enough to warrant those kinds of minutes, especially when the Clippers have other options. Not playing RoCo is just a bad decision, and while he doesn’t seem like someone who will cause a ruckus over it from a locker room standpoint, I don’t like the basketball side of it at all.
Norm Turning It Around: After an awful start to the season – his playing being a big factor in the Clippers starting 2-4 – Norm Powell has played better of late. Most particularly, he has scored 18 and 17 points in his last two games, and has done so efficiently. Of paramount importance, he has gotten to the free throw line seven times apiece in those games. His outside shot isn’t falling, so Norm getting downhill and drawing fouls is necessary for him to provide value – he sure isn’t providing much as a rebounder, playmaker, or defender. Still, even if he doesn’t do much of those things, if he can score efficiently in the mid to high teens, he will be a useful piece for this team.
Two Small Teams: The Clippers and Nets are two of the smallest teams in the NBA with similar weaknesses on the glass, so it will be interesting to see them clash. The Nets, however, are terrible defensively, while the Clippers are very good, mostly because they have better perimeter defenders and because Ivica Zubac has been a monster. Still, the Nets are a team they can punish on the offensive glass, and getting second possessions can hopefully get their offense going a bit.