When: 10:30 p.m. EST
Where: Staples Center; Los Angeles, CA
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Clippers weren’t expected to be much this season. Their roster is a mish-mash of spare parts acquired in the trades that sent Chris Paul and Blake Griffin elsewhere. With no clear star in a loaded Western Conference, they seemed destined for the lottery. A 15-6 start to the season was perceived as fools gold. Surely they’d fall off a cliff at some point.
They still haven’t.
Doc Rivers has his team at 23-16, the four seed in the Western Conference. They’ve cooled a bit since their hot start to the season, but they’re still hanging around in the thick of the playoff race.
Tobias Harris has taken lead as the star of the team. His 21.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game both lead the team, and he’s a percentage point away from being in the 50/40/90 club. There’s a good chance he’ll be an All Star this season. Danilo Gallinari has added over 19 points per game from the other starting forward spot. While that duo provides the scoring, the rest of the starting lineup provides defense and steady play.
The Clippers bench unit is a terror. Lou Williams is still doing Lou Williams things, averaging over 18 points and nearly 5 assists per game off the bench. Montrezl Harrell gobbles up offensive rebounds and is a match-up nightmare as a small ball center. He’s averaging career highs across the board- 15.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks.
The Clippers are the fourth most efficient 3-point shooting team in the league at 38.2% from deep. Only one team shoots fewer 3-pointers per game, but that may not matter with how the Hornets have defended the perimeter. We could witness another 3-point barrage if the Hornets don’t play with energy early.
These two teams are about as evenly matched as they come on paper. The Clippers sit one spot above the Hornets in offensive rating. The Hornets sit two spots above the Clippers in defensive rating. This group needs to prove it can beat a similarly talented team on the road, or this season won’t go anywhere. Tonight is a good time to do just that.