After a few days off, the Clippers are back at home to take on the Raptors for the second and final time this season. In Toronto two months ago, the Clippers won 124-113. They were carried by four 20+ point games from Paul George, Ivica Zubac, Norman Powell, and Reggie Jackson. With two of those players not available tonight—one traded, one injured—a different mix will have to lead this one. Check out our preview below to see how it might play out:
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
When: 7:00 PM PT
How to Watch: ESPN
How to Listen: AM 570 KLAC
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Russell Westbrook – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris, Sr. – Ivica Zubac
Raptors: Fred VanVleet – O.G. Anunoby – Scottie Barnes – Pascal Siakam – Jakob Poeltl
OUT: Norman Powell (shoulder)
G-LEAGUE ASSIGNMENT: Xavier Moon; Moussa Diabaté; Jason Preston
QUESTIONABLE: Dalano Banton (thumb)
OUT: Otto Porter, Jr. (foot)
The Big Picture
Aside from the team-related narratives that came out of Sunday’s game, one of the most important revelations was Paul George’s 42 point game, which was made possible by better health and strength in his leg. Although George has not been on the formal injury report, he has been on a minutes restriction since the All Star Break (even though his minutes have still be fairly high on certain nights). Regardless, if Sunday’s game is a hint of what is to come from George, the Clippers will be in a much better spot than a week ago.
Moreover, Zubac is off the injury report for the second straight game, suggesting his calf is also on the mend. While Plumlee has performed admirably since joining the Clippers, the Raptors new starting center—Poeltl—will be a handful, especially now that he has VanVleet as a pick-and-roll partner. This will be the fifth matchup between Zubac and Poeltl; Zubac has mostly got the better of Poeltl but, tonight, we will see how much of that had to do with the Spurs’ talent deficit. So long as Zubac can return to his full form, the Clippers should be able to at least neutralize Poeltl’s impact.
If there is any team in the league that can matchup with the Clippers’ wing depth, it would be the Toronto Raptors. Siakam, Anunoby, and Barnes all have the length and athleticism to chase George, Leonard, and Morris around all game. Moreover, since Poeltl joined their starting lineup, the Raptors have the 11th best defense in the league (in the time, the Clippers have the 5th worst defense).
The Raptors also turn the ball over the least in the league; have the second best assist-to-turnover ratio; and lead the league in steals. The Clippers, of course, turn the ball over constantly. Not only does this lessen the amount of shots the Clippers can get up; it also creates transition opportunities for the opponent. And the Clippers do not have enough athleticism to chase down the Raptors’ wings in transition.
Two Days Off: The Clippers had Monday and Tuesday off after a hard-fought victory on Sunday over the Memphis Grizzlies. One would think that this would be a good thing for the Clippers. This year, though, the Clippers are 1-5 in games after two days of rest. In those games, the Clippers have shot 42.6% from the field and 30.5% from three. Dissecting why this has happened in beyond the scope of a game preview, but it is something to keep in mind going into this game.
Rooting Interests: The Lakers won last night, lifting them up to the 9th seed. The Thunder also beat the Warriors, which helps the Clippers to some extent. Mavericks over Jazz was also unhelpful, since the Clippers are more concerned with catching the Mavs than worried about the Jazz coming up from behind (right now, at least). Finally, the 76ers over the Timberwolves was unequivocally helpful. Here are the rooting interests for Wednesday night:
— Mavericks vs. Pelicans: This depends on how you feel about the Clippers going forward. If you’re worried they might fall further down, then you want the Pelicans to lose; if you think the Clippers have chance to climb up to the 5th seed, you want the Pelicans to win.
— Thunder vs. Suns: The Clippers likely cannot catch the Suns, so it might be wise to push the Thunder further out of contention (unless you want the Thunder to edge out the Lakers).
— Bulls vs. Nuggets: Go Bulls! Why not?
That about does it for this preview of the Clippers’ upcoming game against the Raptors. As always, check out The Lob The Jam The Podcast and Clips ‘N Dip for analysis throughout the week, and follow us on Twitter to watch the game with us!