Game Preview: Clippers take on Griffin-led Pistons for first time
The Los Angeles Clippers (27-25) will take on the Detroit Pistons (26-26) on Friday for the second time this season.
Here’s what to look out for in Friday’s matchup:
The Reunion –
On Jan. 29, the trajectory of two franchises – the L.A. Clippers and the Detroit Pistons – took an immediate turn, when L.A. traded forward Blake Griffin, along with center Willie Reed and forward Brice Johnson, to the Pistons in exchange for forward Tobias Harris, guard Avery Bradley, center Boban Marjanovic, and a first and second round draft pick.
And since everything went down, everything has gone up.
Neither the Clippers nor Pistons have lost since their new additions have taken the floor. The Clippers fell to Portland the day after the trade, but L.A. was shorthanded. Since the Clippers’ new additions have been introduced to game action, L.A. hasn’t tasted defeat, beating Chicago and Dallas on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
The Pistons have enjoyed similar immediate success. Since Griffin entered the lineup, Detroit owns victories over Memphis, Miami, Portland and Brooklyn.
Friday will mark the first time that the Clippers will take on the Griffin-led Pistons. In four games with Detroit, Griffin is averaging 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists. For the Clippers, Harris is averaging 21.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, and Bradley is averaging 10.0 points and 1.5 steals.
Lastly, both teams are on the cusp of the playoff picture. L.A. and Detroit each sit in the ninth spot of their respective conferences. The Clippers are a half-game behind New Orleans for the eighth spot in the West and the Pistons are one game behind Philadelphia in the loss column for the eighth spot in the East.
The Clippers stay put –
After a tumultuous first half of the season due to a rash of injuries to key players, the Clippers were thought to be big sellers at the NBA trade deadline. However, the Griffin trade was the only move that L.A. made.
On Wednesday, the Clippers re-signed guard Lou Williams to a multi-year extension, and center DeAndre Jordan wasn’t moved before the deadline.
Last week, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said that he has spoken to a few players in the wake of trade talks that swirled around the NBA, with hopes of keeping those players focused on the team’s goals. Now, with the deadline passed, the Clippers can presumably shake loose from the rumors that surrounded them for months.
Road warriors –
While the Clippers enjoyed a January that included 10 of their 15 games at home (12-of-15 in the state of California), February will be the opposite.
Friday’s game in Detroit will be the first of seven consecutive road games for L.A., split up across the next four weeks.
After Friday, L.A. will head to Philadelphia to take on the Sixers on Saturday. The Clippers will then head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets on Monday and end the four-game swing in Boston on Wednesday.
The All-Star break will take place next weekend, before the Clippers hit the road again for a back-to-back at Golden State and Phoenix on Feb. 22-23. L.A. will then come home for a few days, before traveling again to Denver for a Feb. 27 tilt with the Nuggets.
This road stretch will be key for the Clippers, who are battling for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs with only 30 games left in the regular season
Friday’s game will tip-off at 4 p.m. PST.