Game Preview: Clippers host LeBron, Cavs in first game of back-to-back
The Clippers (34-29) will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (38-26) on Friday, in the first game of a home back-to-back. LA will host the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
In their first matchup of the season, LA fell to Cleveland in overtime, 118-103, on the Cavs’ home floor. The Clippers currently reside in the eighth spot in the West and sit just 2 games out of the seventh spot. Cleveland leads the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers by 1.5 games for the third seed in the East.
Here are a few things to look out for in Friday’s matchup:
Locked in on LeBron –
In his career, Cleveland forward LeBron James is 20-7 overall against the Clippers, but most of his success against LA has taken place on his home floor. James is 13-1 against the Clippers at home and 7-6 at STAPLES Center.
Still, James has a history of winning against the Clippers, a trend that LA will look to change on Friday night.
When the two teams faced off for the first time this season, on Nov. 17 in Cleveland, the Clippers were in good position to earn their second win over LeBron and Co. on the road since James arrived in the league.
LA led 98-90 with 5:29 left in the game, and led 105-102 with just under a minute to play. However, with 51 seconds left, James missed a three before forward Kevin Love grabbed the offensive rebound and fed the ball to James once again, who knocked down his second attempt at tying the game with 47 seconds left. Neither team scored in the final seconds and the game went to overtime.
Love hit two threes in OT that essentially sealed the game for the Cavs.
James finished that game with 39 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists. He maintains career averages of 24.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists against the Clippers.
In addition, since Feb. 3, James is averaging 28.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, while shooting 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from three.
One point to note however is that James’ career average of 24.4 points per game against LA is the second lowest per game points average he maintains against any NBA team. James only averages less against the Detroit Pistons (23.9). LA and Detroit are the only two teams that James averages less than 25 points per game against.
In addition, James’ 46.1 percent career field goal percentage against the Clippers is his worst against any opponent throughout his career.
Clippers offense hitting its stride –
Since Feb. 14, the Clippers are averaging 120.6 points per game, second in the NBA in that span. But that doesn’t tell the full story of how effective LA has been offensively in recent weeks.
LA is shooting 50.5 percent from the field over their last eight games, second to only the Golden State Warriors (52.6) in the NBA since Valentine’s Day. In addition, the Clippers have made 355 field goals since Feb. 14, seventh in the NBA. However, of the six teams ahead of them, all except New Orleans have played nine games compared to the Clippers’ eight.
Over the last eight games, Clippers reserve guard Lou Williams is averaging 22.8 points and 6.8 assists. Forward Tobias Harris is averaging 21.6 points on 51 percent shooting, as well as 7.4 rebounds, and center DeAndre Jordan is averaging 14.3 points on 66 percent shooting, and 15.0 rebounds. Lastly, reserve forward Montrezl Harrell is averaging 16.1 points per game on 69 percent shooting.
The Clippers have shot less than 50 percent from the field as a team only twice in the last eight games, and the LA bench has outscored the opposing bench in seven of the last eight.
Friday’s game will tip-off at 7:30 p.m.