The Celtics continue their West coast swing through California with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. This is going to be a tough game as the Clippers have been playing very well. This is the 3rd game of a 5 game road trip for the Celtics and it is the first game at home for the Clippers following a 6 game Eastern road trip.
The Clippers won 6 straight at home before heading out on the road trip to face Eastern conference teams. They went 4-2 on the trip, losing to the Hawks and the Nets. The Celtics are 1-1 on their trip so far, winning against the Warriors and losing a very winnable game against the Kings.
The Clippers lead the NBA with 6 games shooting at least 50% from beyond the arc. They also lead the league with 42.3% shooting on 3 pointers. They are 12-0 when they make at least 16 threes in a game. They are 2nd with an offensive rating of 117.3 and They are tied for 4th, shooting 48.2% from the field. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are tied for the 4th highest scoring duo in the league.
The Celtics are 4th in the East, 4 games behind first place Philadelphia. They are 6-6 on the road and 4-6 in their last 10 games. They are 2-3 vs Western Conference teams. The Clippers are 2nd in the West, just percentage points behind the Utah Jazz. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 8-2 at home. They are 6-2 vs Eastern Conference teams.
The Celtics should get Kemba Walker back in the starting lineup after he missed the last game for rest since it was back to back. Marcus Smart (calf) and Romeo Langford (wrist) are both still out. Payton Pritchard will be available for this game and the Celtics can certainly used him. Jaylen Brown will miss his first game this season with knee soreness. I’m taking a wild guess that Javonte Green may replace hiim, but I’m probably wrong.
For the Clippers, Patrick Beverly is expected to miss his 7th straight game due to knee soreness. Reggie Jackson should continue to start in his place. Jay Scrubb is also out as he rehabs from off season foot surgery. Paul George is questionable with soreness in his right foot. I’m not sure who would start if he can’t play.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Javonte Green
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson
Robert Williams III
Marcus Smart (calf) out
Romeo Langford (wrist) out
Payton Pritchard (knee) available
Jaylen Brown (knee) out
Probable Clippers Starters
PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Paul George
SF: Kawai Leonard
PF: Nicolas Batum
C: Serge Ibaka
Marcus Morris, Sr
Patrick Beverly (knee) out
Jay Scrubb (foot) out
Paul George (foot) questionable
Jayson Tatum vs Kawhi Leonard
Leonard is averaging 26.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He is shooting 51% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. He is always a threat to score and is also a threat to get in the passing lanes and steal the ball. He is also a very good defender and will try to make things difficult on Jayson Tatum on the offensive end.
Javonte Green vs Paul George
Paul George is averaging 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.2 steals. He is shooting 51% from the field and 48% from beyond the arc. I’m guessing that Javonte Green may start in Jaylen Brown’s place but it’s just a guess. With Paul George being questionable, I’m not sure who would start in his place if he is out.
Tristan Thompson vs Serge Ibaka
Ibaka is averaging 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 blocks. He is shooting 52% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. Thompson or Theis need to stay with him both inside and on the perimeter. The Celtics also have to watch out for him inside as he is a good rim protector.
Player to Watch
Williams is averaging 9.4 points off the bench for the Clippers this season. However, there is something about the Celtics that he just loves. In the 2 games last season against the Celtics, he had 27 and 38 points. The Celtics need someone to stay with him and shut him down if he goes off again in this game.
Keys to the Game
Defense - If ever there is a need for the Celtics to play tough team defense, it is this one. The Clippers average 115 points per game and are one of the most efficient teams in the league shooting 48.2% from the field and lead the league with 42.3% as a team from beyond the arc. They have 4 starters shooting over 50% from the field and over 40% from three. The Celtics must play tough team defense if they have any hope to win this game.
Rebound - The Celtics can’t score if they don’t have the ball. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and so the Celtics must put out the extra effort on the boards to give themselves extra possessions as well as to limit the Clippers fast break opportunities and second chance points.
Energy and Effort - The Celtics have to come out with energy and have to play harder than the Clippers. 100% effort from every Celtic will be needed to get a win in this one. They have to be the more aggressive team and be the team that wants it more. They have been getting their opponents best efforts and they simply must work harder to get a win.
Focus - The Celtics must stay focused for all 48 minutes. There seem to be stretches during most every game where the Celtics lose focus and turn the ball over and miss easy shots. They have to stay focused and not let up and allow the Clippers to get easy baskets from Celtics sloppiness. The Clippers average 19 points off turnovers and so they will make the Celtics pay if they lose focus.
Road Fatigue - The Celtics are playing in the third game of a 5 game road trip and it is the 3rd game in 4 days with travel between. They have also been playing short handed and players have had to play a bit harder to make up for the missing players. Fatigue could become a factor for the Celtics but hopefully their depth will allow them to have enough in the tank to get the win.
Injuries - The Celtics will take a hit with Jaylen Brown not able to play, but it would even it out a bit if Paul George goes from questionable to out. If George plays, The Celtics will be at a big disadvantage. Both teams are missing their defensive bull dogs with Smart out for the Celtics and Beverly out for the Clippers. It’s good that Payton Pritchard will be returning, but he also may be rusty.
Officiating - I know that I say this every game, but the officiating always can be an x-factor in every game. Every crew calls the game differently whether they call every little ticky tack foul or they let a lot of contact go and let the teams play. Some refs favor the home team and some not so much. The Celtics have got to adjust to the way the game is being called and not let the officiating take away from their focus.