The Clippers close out their fist half of the season with a trip to DC to take on the Wizards. Check out a full preview of the Clippers’ game against the Wizards below.
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
When: 4:00 PM PT
How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Reggie Jackson – Paul George – Nicolas Batum – Serge Ibaka
Wizards: Russell Westbrook – Bradley Beal – Garrison Matthews – Rui Hachimura – Mo Wagner
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard Questionable (Back), Marcus Morris Questionable (Concussion), Patrick Patterson Questionable (Personal)
Wizards: Ish Smith Out (Hamstring), Thomas Bryant Out (Knee)
The Big Picture
After just getting healthy for a couple weeks, the Clippers were struck all at once on Tuesday. Right before the game, Kawhi Leonard was ruled out with back spasms. Then, just before halftime, Marcus Morris took an inadvertent elbow to the head and was ruled out with a concussion. With the All Star Break just one game away, it makes very little sense to rush either Leonard or Morris back into the lineup for a last contest – giving them the extra few days to recover seems the pertinent move. The long-term health of both guys is far more important that one game. That said, the Clippers now sit in 4th in the West due to the recent surge of the Suns, and while there’s plenty of time left, every game does matter. Ultimately, I believe Kawhi and Morris will sit out, and that’s definitely the right play.
The Wizards had been on a roll winning seven of eight games (with the lone loss being to the Clippers) but have now dropped two in a row, including a blowout at the hands of the Grizzlies. Their defense has improved slightly, but remains utterly porous. More importantly, their offense ranks decently, but is entirely at the whims of Russell Westbrook. On days when Russ is playing well, the Wizards can look quite good. When Russ is bad Russ (probably 70% of the time), the Wizards aren’t very good, as Russ’s poor efficiency and ridiculous turnover rate are damaging enough to wreck an offense boasting the leading scorer in the NBA (Bradley Beal). Beal is dangerous, of course, but he doesn’t have much help, so as long as the Clippers can contain Davis Bertans, the fate of the game will hinge on Russ. Odds are, the Clippers will be favored with an off night, and they can pull out the win.
Coffey and Patterson Time: On Tuesday, with Kawhi and Morris out, the Clippers were desperately short on forwards. While Paul George played 39 minutes, Lue didn’t want to overplay Batum (30 minutes), instead turning to a three-guard lineup plus Terance Mann that bled points to start the 4th quarter. While Luke Kennard (the 5th man in that rotation) is a better player than Amir Coffey or Patrick Patterson, the sheer size of those guys could help to balance the Clippers’ bench lineups, so look for one or maybe both of them to get looks if Morris and Kawhi are out. As mentioned elsewhere in the preview, the Clippers will need some scoring, so going with Patterson against the non-threatening Wizards forwards could be the smart play.
Wherefore Art Thou Jerome: After being a big part of Scott Brooks’ rotation for most of the month of January, Jerome Robinson has disappeared into the depths of the Wizards’ bench. Jerome has played in just two games since February 5 – for a grand total of three minutes. Jerome’s 4th year option was declined, so he has to hope some other team has seen enough to sign him for next year. Jerome is just 24, and has shown flashes of being a capable NBA defender, but his poor shooting (32.8% from the field and 29% from three) has carried over to the Wizards, and if he can’t shoot, he’s not an NBA player. The only way Clippers fans are going to see Jerome is if the game is a blowout, and for those who still hold out hope for the young guard… this might well be your last opportunity to see him play against the Clips.
Finding Scoring: If Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris are out, the Clippers will be down their 1st and 4th leading scorers. Paul George is a lock to score some buckets, but after him, the Clippers will need other guys to step up. The logical answers are Lou Williams and Serge Ibaka, the other Clippers who average double figures in scoring. Lou was quiet on Tuesday but had a fairly long stretch of good play prior, and Serge has been up and down all year. One of those guys has to make buckets for the Clippers to have a chance (though Lou could also do damage with his playmaking) – we saw on Tuesday that Paul George can’t carry the team alone. Other candidates to make something happen are Reggie Jackson (the near-hero of Tuesday’s game), Pat Beverley, and Nic Batum, but Reggie is extremely streaky and the other two excel at non-scoring elements. Nonetheless, with Morris and Leonard out, the Clippers could really use more aggressive play from Beverley and Batum to help lighten the load.
That about does it for this preview of the Clippers’ game against the Wizards. Comment on the game below!