The Clippers are aiming for a 4-0 season sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday as they take the Moda Center court for the second time in three nights. Will LA’s dominance carry over from Wednesday’s victory to tonight’s contest? Or will Chauncey Billups construct an improved game plan to make Friday’s rematch more competitive? Continue reading for our Clippers-Trail Blazers preview.

Game Information

Where: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

How to Tune in: Bally Sports SoCal, ClipperVision, AM 570

Tickets: For great deals on Clippers tickets, check out Barry’s Tickets!

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: James Harden – Terance Mann – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Ivica Zubac

Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson – Anfernee Simons – Kris Murray – Toumani Camara – Deandre Ayton

Injury Report

Clippers: Russell Westbrook OUT, Norman Powell GTD, Terance Mann GTD, Moussa Diabate GTD

Trail Blazers: Malcolm Brogdon OUT, Robert Williams III OUT, Shaedon Sharpe OUT, Jerami Grant GTD, Anfernne Simons GTD, Matisse Thybulle GTD

The Big Picture

The Clippers have a chance to piece together back-to-back wins for the first time since March 3rd, when they entered Minneapolis and departed with their most gritty win of the season. Tonight’s challenger, whom LA overwhelmed less than 48 hours prior, likely won’t command the same level of respect from the Clippers as the earlier-in-the-month Timberwolves did. Still, that mindset shouldn’t creep into the Clippers locker room ahead of tonight’s game. From here on out, every game will be important regarding playoff seeding. The Clippers can’t afford to throw away these “gimme” games — not if they want to stay in the race for that No. 3 seed out west, and certainly not if they want to stay clear of the looming New Orleans Pelicans, who are a bad week of Clippers basketball away from usurping them for a Top 4 seed. 

How does LA stay the course? Urgency and effort.

Wednesday’s game wasn’t truly broken open until the second half, and all it took was one dominant third-quarter stretch to take LA’s lead from eight to 24 points, creating a deficit much too great for an undermanned Blazers roster to overcome. Carried-over assertiveness from the Clippers Big 3 should be enough to impose their will earlier in this game than the last. Hopefully.

The Antagonist

As banged up as the Blazers are, they hung around with the Clippers for a while two nights ago, mostly because they were knocking down shots from the perimeter. They made 15 of 34 from three despite getting only two makes (and 14 total points) from their best offensive weapon, Anfernee Simons. Sustained three-point shooting and a more typical performance from Simons, who possesses the youth, athleticism, and ability as a pull-up three-point shooter out of pick-and-roll (things that bother the Clippers) would go a long way in making this a game — that and literally anything from Deandre Ayton. Without it, Portland would practically need their “others” to out-produce some of the NBA’s elite on the opposite sideline, which is unlikely.

The Bottom Line

For some reason, this just doesn’t feel like it’ll be as easy of a game for the Clippers as it was on Wednesday. But style points don’t really matter at this time of the year. If the Clippers can come out of this one with a win and no new injuries…mission accomplished.

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