Game Preview: Clippers put six-game win streak on the line in Utah
Apparently, not even injuries can slow down the Clippers anymore.
Having won six in a row and 12 of their last 15, the Clippers (23-21) will hit the road to face the Utah Jazz (18-27) on Saturday, looking to extend their longest win streak of the season and the longest current win streak in the NBA.
Over the past six games, L.A. has been without multiple starters in each game. In a Jan. 8 win over Atlanta, the Clippers were missing forwards Blake Griffin (concussion) and Danilo Gallinari (glute), and guards Austin Rivers (ankle) and Milos Teodosic (foot). Two days later, in a Jan. 10 road win at Golden State, the Clippers took the floor without that foursome once again.
The next night in Sacramento, Rivers and Gallinari remained out of the lineup, but the Clippers saw the return of Griffin and Teodosic in a matchup with the Kings. However, center DeAndre Jordan, who had never missed a game due to injury in his 10-year career, sprained his left ankle in the second quarter and played only 11 minutes.
Jordan, Rivers and Gallinari have each missed the next three games, against Sacramento once again, the Rockets and Denver.
Still, the Clippers emerged victorious in all three, due in large part to the play of guard Lou Williams and the Clippers bench, mixed in with a healthy Griffin and Teodosic.
During the Clippers’ six-game win streak – which has catapulted them into the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff picture – Williams is averaging 31.3 points and 5.5 assists. He is also shooting 43.5 percent from three and 92 percent from the free throw line during the streak.
Over the past four games, Teodosic is averaging 12.0 points and 6.3 rebounds, all while shooting 54.8 percent from the field. In addition, the Clippers are 13-4 with Teodosic on the floor this season and 7-1 when he scores in double figures.
| 15pts/4reb/5ast/3stl@MilosTeodosic4 delivers an all-around game to earn last night's @Kia Stinger Headturning Performance of the Game.— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 18, 2018
Griffin tallied 29 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in Monday’s 113-102 win over Houston, and in Wednesday’s 109-104 win over Denver, he registered 20 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists.
Lastly, the Clippers bench continues to produce at a high level. It is one of five bench units in the NBA to average 40 or more points, currently sitting at fourth overall with 40.9 points per game. Forwards Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Johnson combined for 33 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks off the bench in Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets. It was Harrell’s fifth consecutive game scoring double-figures in a reserve role and Johnson’s fourth consecutive, season-high streaks for both players.
Harrell has emerged as a consistent spark plug for the Clippers off the bench. Over the last five games, he is averaging 16.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in 27.6 minutes, filling in mainly for the injured Jordan.
If the Clippers are to keep their win streak alive, they’ll have to do it against a familiar foe in Utah. The two teams have faced off twice this season. L.A. defeated Utah, 102-84, on Oct. 24 at STAPLES Center, but the Jazz returned the favor, knocking off the Clippers, 126-107, on Nov. 30, also at STAPLES Center.
It should be noted that in the second matchup, the Clippers were missing both Griffin and Teodosic, as well as Gallinari.
Saturday’s game will tip-off at 6 p.m.