The Los Angeles Clippers visit the Celtics for the 4th game of their 5 game road trip. The Celtics Beat the Clippers on their own 5 game road trip, winning 119-115 on February 5. Paul George missed that game for the Clippers and both Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown were out for the Celtics.
The Clippers lost to Milwaukee on Sunday and they are 10-1 after a loss in their previous game. The Clippers will finish their road trip on Thursday against the Wizards. The Celtics are 90-43 all time vs the Clippers and they are 44-26 when they play in Boston.
The Celtics are 6th in the East, 5 games behind the 1st place 76ers. The Heat (5th) and the Raptors (7th) are also 5 games back. There are just 1.5 games between 4th and 10th in the East. The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games and 10-5 at home. They are 4-7 vs Western Conference teams.
The Clippers are 3rd in the West, half a game behind the Lakers and half a game ahead of the Suns. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 12-6 on the road. They have the 5th best road record in the league. They are 10-5 vs Eastern Conference teams.
Jaylen Brown is once again listed as questionable but I am thinking positive and have included him in the starting lineup. If he can’t go, Brad may go with Javonte Green again or he may do something else to fill in his spot in the starting lineup. Marcus Smart (calf) and Romeo Langford (wrist) remain out.
For the Clippers, Daniel Oturu is out with a quad injury. Jay Scrubb is out with a foot injury. Patrick Patterson is listed as a game time decision for personal reasons. The Clippers have used 13 different starting lineups this season. The current lineup has started 18 games and is 13-5 in those games.
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson
Robert Williams III
Marcus Smart (calf) out
Romeo Langford (wrist) out
Jaylen Brown (knee) available
Probable Clippers Starters
PG: Patrick Beverley
SG: Paul George
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Nicolas Batum
C: Serge Ibaka
Marcus Morris, Sr
Daniel Oturu (quad) out
Jay Scrubb (foot) out
Patrick Patterson (personal) game time decision
Jayson Tatum vs Kawhi Leonard
Leonard is averaging 26.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He is shooting 51% from the field and 39% 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.
Jaylen Brown vs Paul George
Paul George is averaging 23.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.1 steals. He is shooting 50% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc. I’m keeping Jaylen in the starting lineup, even though he is questionable because of wishful thinking. The Celtics really need him if they hope to win this game. If he can’t play, Javonte Green may start once again or not.
Tristan Thompson vs Serge Ibaka
Ibaka is averaging 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks. He is shooting 52% from the field and 36% 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 on defense as he is a good rim protector.
Player to Watch
Williams is averaging 12.4 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. In the first game this season, he had 18 points and 6 assists. 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 114.9 points per game (6th) and are one of the most efficient teams in the league shooting 48.4% from the field and lead the league with 41.6% as a team from beyond the arc. 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.
Play as a Team - Too often this season, the Celtics have not played as a team. Players dribble down the clock and take contested shots instead of passing the ball and finding an easier shot. They must play together and trust each other and make the extra pass to find the open man. Hero ball rarely ends well.
Play 48 minutes -The Celtics often get off to a slow start and then have to play catch up. Other times they get off to a big lead and then take their foot off the gas and let their opponents go on a run and pass them. The Celtics have got to play hard and give 100% as a team for all 48 minutes with no let up.
Road Fatigue - The Clippers are playing in the 4th game of a 5 game road trip. They may be getting a bit fatigued by this time even though they are a very good road team. The Celtics need to take advantage of any lack of focus or fatigue that the Clippers show.
Clippers Revenge - The Clippers lost to the Celtics in February on their home court. They are going to want to avenge that loss and I expect them to come out fired up and ready to play. The Celtics need to match their intensity and energy and add a little extra. The Clippers lost on Sunday and they are 10-1 in the next game after a loss. The Celtics need to be ready for the Clippers best effort.
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.