The LA Clippers return home after a one game road trip searching for a win against the Houston Rockets.
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
When: 7:30 PM PT
How to Watch: Clippervision, Bally Sports SoCal
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: James Harden – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Terance Mann – Ivica Zubac
Rockets: Fred VanVleet – Jalen Green – Dillon Brooks – Jabari Smith Jr. – Alperen Sengun
Clippers: Mason Plumlee out (MCL), Brandon Boston Jr. out (quad), Kobe Brown (G League assignment)
Rockets: Amen Thompson out, Victor Oladipo out
The Big Picture
The Clippers return home after a one game road trip to Denver in search of their first win since incorporating James Harden into the lineup. They’re on a six-game losing streak and hold a 3-7 record through the first ten games of the season.
While it may seem like the sky is falling in Clipperland, their last game against the Nuggets, albeit a loss, looked like they may have figured some things out. That game was the best they’ve looked since Harden made his debut almost two weeks ago against the New York Knicks.
And there could be reinforcements on the way. Ever since Mason Plumlee has been sidelined, the Clippers rebounding and size issues up front have been magnified when the bench comes in. The Harden trade left them without any experienced depth in the frontcourt and Plumlee’s absence exacerbates that. P.J Tucker has been an overall negative. But Daniel Theis is expected to clear waivers and immediately sign with the Clippers. It’s not clear if he’ll be ready to play against the Rockets but he will help up front.
The Houston Rockets come to town a revamped and improved team from the past couple of seasons. They had been a very young and inexperienced team with very little direction.
During the offseason, the front office made it a point to bring in experienced veterans to supplant their young core and so far it seems to be working. The Rockets are 6-3, having won six consecutive games since starting the season 0-3.
Just like Ime Udoka’s time in Boston, the Rockets are a top five defensive team in the NBA. They’re third in opponents points per game and fourth in defensive rating.
As recently as last season, when the Rockets were on the schedule, you could almost certainly chalk it up as a for sure win. That’s not the case this season. This team can hurt you in different ways, starting with versatile big man Alperen Sengun.
With the Clippers recent struggles to form any semblance of a competent offense, the Rockets defense is going to be a real test.
Starting Lineup Change: It was announced this morning by Chris Haynes that Russell Westbrook told the team he wanted to come off the bench to help integrate James Harden. Haynes has reported that Terance Mann will start in Russ’s place, leaving a presumed bench unit of Russ-Norman Powell-PJ Tucker-Daniel Theis (whenever he’s ready to join the team). I like that Russ initiated this, and I like the move. Terance brings some of the same weaknesses as Russ (doesn’t take enough threes to be a true floor spacer, most notably), but is far more comfortable off ball, is bigger, and a better defender. We will see how these reconfigured units look, but I’m hopeful.