Clippers (31-20) at Raptors (31-21): Preview
The Raptors defeated the NBA’s worst team, and are home to face one of the best. The LA Clippers will be in a foul mood after dropping 2 straight.
The “other” Los Angeles team, the Clippers, visit the Air Canada Centre. Like the Raptors, they are banged up, and struggling to hold their place in the fiercely competitive Western Conference. Clips’ point guard Chris Paul is sidelined until next month after injuring his left thumb.
In the absence of Paul, a nine-time All-Star, the position is being handled quite ably by the coach’s son, Austin Rivers. Of course, he doesn’t have to do anything crazy on this veteran-laden squad; just pass the ball to J.J. Redick or Blake Griffin and watch the points pile up. Rivers is quite capable of chipping in himself, and is averaging double figures in points for the first time in his 5-year career (though a minus_1.3 per game [PG] on a winning team is a headscratcher).
The Clippers center, DeAndre Jordan, leads the NBA in field-goal percentage and is second in rebounds with 13.7 PG. Completing the top-ten trifecta, he’s eighth in blocked shots, just behind an emerging force named Lucas Nogueira.
LA’s bench is more than capable, with Raptor killer Jamal Crawford, defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute, and beefy Marreese Speights all likely to get some burn. Who knows – Paul Pierce may get a chance to wave goodbye.
3 keys to Raptors victory
- Attack Jordan. Yesterday in Brooklyn, Kyle Lowry piled up assists by getting the ball to Jonas Valanciunas. Do it again. The Clips don’t have a lot of help behind DeAndre. If he gets in foul trouble early, our guys can produce some easy buckets.
- Don’t lose Redick. He’s the key to their offense, and they often run 2- and 3-man screens to get him open. I hope DeMarre Carroll can keep him within arm’s reach, but it won’t be easy.
- Box out on D. Honestly, do I even have to mention this? Apparently so, because Raptors rebounders have been lazy recently.
Conclusion & Final Score
There’s no word on the availability of DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson, so for our purposes, they are out. Cory Joseph might as well be; his coach is miffed at him majorly.
Even without Paul, the Clippers’ 1 though 9 guys are strong. We’re playing without a third of our rotation, Kyle Lowry’s long shot has gone missing, we were nearly beaten by Brooklyn…
Clippers 112 – Raptors 104