The Clippers got caught in a trap game against Orlando. Can they regroup in time for a stiff test against their fellow Western contender, the Denver Nuggets? What group will they even have available? Read on for the full Clippers vs Nuggets game preview:
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
When: 7:00 PM PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal, TNT, AM 570 KLAC
Nuggets: Jamal Murray — Will Barton III — Aaron Gordon — Michael Porter Jr. — Nikola Jokić
Clippers: Reggie Jackson — Luke Kennard — Kawhi Leonard — Nicolas Batum — Ivica Zubac
Nuggets: OUT — Monte Morris (quad)
Clippers: OUT — Paul George (foot); OUT — Serge Ibaka (back); OUT — Patrick Beverley (knee); OUT — Rajon Rondo (groin); GAME-TIME DECISION — Marcus Morris Sr. (calf)
The Big Picture
. . . is missing big pieces.
The Clippers are expected to be without at least three starters again, and perhaps a fourth, with Marcus Morris listed as a game-time decision as of this writing. With Morris, this group blasted the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. Without Morris . . . well, the less said about Tuesday’s flop, the better. (No, I don’t think Morris’ absence was to blame.)
How quickly things change. The Clippers’ recent six-game surge is over. Eyes turn from the standings to the injury report. With the Phoenix Suns now three games ahead in the loss column and the visiting Denver Nuggets only a single game behind, the Clippers have little time to waste, but if Tuesday’s upset loss demonstrates anything — oops, I brought it up again — it’s the value of depth and rest. For the Clippers, the former has been swept away. The latter may bring tough decisions. Here’s hoping that the many absences are brief ones.
. . . doesn’t care about Clipper problems.
The Nuggets reloaded at the trade deadline, adding eye-of-the-beholder forward Aaron Gordon. So far so good, as he’s helped his new team blow away the Hawks and handle the Sixers. Denver enters tonight sitting in the no-home-court half of the playoff bracket, but with both LA teams in stitches, their path upward is suddenly clearer.
Next up for them will be sorting through their big man rotation. They picked up JaVale McGee too, despite being well-stocked in the middle. MVP-contender — favorite? — Nikola Jokić is going to soak up something like 40 minutes in any important game, so McGee will have to scrap with Paul Millsap, old friend JaMychal Green, and useful rookie Zeke Nnaji for the leftovers. The Nuggets may be unsettled in the middle of the floor, but it’s clear they won’t settle for the middle of the pack.
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