The LA Clippers will visit the Toronto Raptors in a Friday evening matchup, hoping to end 2021 with back-to-back wins. Continue reading for our Clippers vs Raptors preview.
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
When: 4:30 p.m. PT
How to Tune in: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
LA Clippers: Eric Bledsoe – Reggie Jackson – Terance Mann – Marcus Morris – Serge Ibaka
Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Precious Achiuwa
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard Out (knee), Jason Preston Out (Foot), Nicolas Batum Out (ankle), Isaiah Hartenstein Out (Ankle), Paul George Out (Elbow), Ivica Zubac Out (Protocols), Brandon Boston Jr. Out (Protocols), Jay Scrubb Out (Protocols), Moses Wright Out (Protocols)
Raptors: Justin Champagnie (Protocols), Isaac Bonga (Protocols)
The Big Picture
Wins are hard to come by at this point, and you can’t blame the Clippers for much of it. Health is an issue for this team – whether it’s due to an injury or the league’s health and safety protocols – leaving the Clips extremely thin and unpredictable on a nightly basis. That’s what the Raptors were dealing with not long ago when they had 11 players, including five starters, in the protocols. However, just about everyone on the Raptors is back in time for a date with the Clippers. LA will look for a win in order to stay above .500, while a victory for the Raptors will keep them in striking distance for the then seed.
Toronto is ready to rebound from a brutal 144-99 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers last Sunday before its game against the Chicago Bulls was postponed just days later. As I alluded to previously, the Raptors are back on the right side of the battle with COVID-19 after getting clearance on their usual starters. The Clippers will get their first look at Rookie of the Year candidate Scottie Barnes while also having to deal with the hot-shooting of Gary Trent Jr., the two-way abilities of OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, and the craftiness of Fred VanVleet running the point. On the flipside, Ty Lue’s squad will have to find a formula to combat a strong Toronto defense when it is at full health.
The game will look a bit different, though. Yes, the Clippers, specifically, will be depleted of much of their top talent. But the game might look a little bit like a 2020-21 regular-season game. Fan attendance will be limited to just 1,000 people at Scotiabank Arena due to the spike in cases, which will be far different from the last time the two teams met in Toronto in 2019 when Kawhi Leonard received his championship ring.
Clippers vs. Raptors Game Notes
- A Fast Start: LA did a good job on Wednesday in getting out to a solid start, which helped them stay in the lead for most of the game. Getting off to a slow start in Toronto would be an unideal scenario given how little firepower and available bodies that the Clips have to work with. It’ll be tough, but they’ll need to find a way to at least be within a score or two after the first quarter.
- Playing Freely: Players play their best basketball when they’re not overthinking every little thing. The “Life Vest” lineups will make an appearance in every weird and unorthodox way that suits them, and depth will be nearly zero. Guys on the court should operate with a “next play” mentality — embrace the ebbs and flows and just play basketball.
At the conclusion of this game, be sure to make your way back here for the recap.