The Clippers kick off their annual Grammy’s road trip with a visit to Toronto to take on the struggling Raptors.
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada
When: 4:30 PM PT
How to Watch: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: James Harden – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Terance Mann – Mason Plumlee
Raptors: Immanuel Quickley – Gary Trent Jr. – RJ Barrett – Scottie Barnes – Jontay Porter
Clippers: Paul George Probable (Groin), Ivica Zubac Out (Calf), Moussa Diabate Out (Hand)
Raptors: Jakob Poeltl Doubtful (Ankle), Markquis Nowell Out (Hamstring)
The Big Picture
The Clippers are on yet another winning streak, and have pulled to within a single loss of 1st place in the Western Conference. Their Net Rating is now up to 4th in the NBA (albeit quite a bit behind the rest of the pack) based on a 5th ranked offense and 13th ranked defense. Their offense has continued to climb while their defense has slipped a bit, but that’s to be expected given their roster composition and Ivica Zubac’s absence. With Kawhi Leonard playing at an All-NBA level and James Harden and Paul George at an All-Star level, the Clippers have their three stars in rhythm and with growing chemistry. Add in solid supporting performances and Ty Lue’s mostly-figured-out rotation and you have the basis of a winning program that is fairly consistent and fun to watch.
The championship era of the Raptors is officially over. OG Anunoby is gone. Pascal Siakam is gone. The only player left from that championship team five years ago is Chris Boucher, who barely played. Scottie Barnes is now the center of the Raptors’ universe, and has made a huge leap in year three. Their other young cornerstones are the players acquired in the Anunoby deal, Quickley and Barrett, both of whom have played well in Toronto. Still, around that talent is not a whole lot of quality NBA players, and the Raptors look like they’ll be one of the worse teams in the NBA the rest of the year. Still, they’re no Wizards or Pistons, and must be taken seriously.
Going Small: Since Zubac has gone out, Ty Lue has increasingly turned to small-ball units without either Mason Plumlee or Daniel Theis. While I’m not a huge fan of such lineups in a vacuum, they’ve mostly played well and have been utilized smartly against suitable opponents. The Raptors, who likely won’t have Jakob Poeltl tomorrow, are one such opponent. I like Jontay Porter and Chris Boucher can get hot at times, but the Raptors simply don’t have any big men who can punish small-ball units with any consistency. If Plumlee or Theis aren’t playing well, expect Ty to go small early and often against Toronto.
Coffey Time: One of the turning points of the season is when Ty Lue decided to go with Amir Coffey as the “backup four” over Kobe Brown (and PJ Tucker). Sure, it wasn’t as big a turning point as the Harden trade, but Coffey has been rock solid in his rotation role compared to the moldering Tucker and the unprepared Brown. Coffey is hitting 43.8% of his threes (albeit on just 1.6 attempts per game), shooting an insane 68.9% on two-pointers, and is averaging just 0.4 turnovers per contest while playing solid defense. Coffey is playable with all sorts of lineup combinations and situations, which makes him perfect in his current role. A toast to an underappreciated Clipper.