The Toronto Raptors toppled the Lakers on Sunday, clinching a playoff spot for the Clippers while keeping their own slim hopes alive. Both the Clippers and Raptors have more prominent games looming on Thursday, but have to go through one another first. Read on for the full Clippers vs Raptors game preview:
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
When: 7:00 PM PT
How to Watch: TNT, Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 KLAC
Raptors: Kyle Lowry — Malachi Flynn — Pascal Siakam — Stanley Johnson — Khem Birch
Clippers: Reggie Jackson — Paul George — Kawhi Leonard — Marcus Morris Sr. — Ivica Zubac
Raptors: OUT — Chris Boucher (knee); OUT — Paul Watson (knee); GAME TIME DECISION — Fred Van Vleet (hip); GAME TIME DECISION — Gary Trent Jr. (leg)
Clippers: OUT — Patrick Beverley (hand); OUT — Serge Ibaka (back); OUT — Amir Coffey (health and safety protocols)
The Big Picture
. . . is that the playoffs are officially near.
Despite being losers of three straight, the Clippers clinched a postseason berth on Sunday from their couches, by virtue of the Lakers’ surprise loss to these Toronto Raptors. This will be the franchise’s ninth trip in ten seasons, a pretty stunning thing to tell a Clipper fan who just arrived from 1999.
Homecourt advantage for at least the first round is almost assured — the Clippers have a six-game edge in the loss column over the Blazers-Lakers-Mavericks morass fighting for fifth and sixth. The chance for more homecourt than that, something most title contenders possess, was likely snatched away on Saturday with the streaking Denver Nuggets earning the season-series tiebreaker.
So what’s at play tonight? Kawhi Leonard revealed that his foot injury was not a recent occurrence, so his ongoing management of it bears watching. The Clippers play the Lakers on Thursday for the final time this season, for whatever that means for these two squads facing these respective circumstances. Also, tonight’s game is on TNT, which means the weekly scheduled appearance of National TV Rondo. Sit back and enjoy.
. . . is hanging from the edge of the play-in tournament by its claw.
The Toronto Raptors enter tonight’s game three games behind the Washington Wizards for the final spot in the play-in games that would give them a chance at the final spot in the actual playoffs. They’re sticking around in the race despite facing a brutally scheduled run of contenders. (Seriously, before they ambushed the Lakers on Sunday, they had lost to the Jazz, Nuggets, and Nets in consecutive games.)
Fortuitously, the Raptors get the Wizards on Thursday and a chance to make up a whole game in the standings. With so few games remaining, Toronto needs to win most every one. The Clippers, mid-skid and perhaps with less need for urgency, present a challenge less imposing than the talent disparity might suggest. If I didn’t know better, I might call this a trap game for the Raptors.
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