Game Preview: Clippers look to bounce back, knock off league-best Warriors
The Clippers are in the midst of a January packed with home games, but that doesn’t mean the schedule is any easier.
After coming up short in a bid for their seventh straight home win and fifth straight victory overall on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers (17-20) will look to start fresh on Saturday, when they play host to the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors (31-8).
Despite Thursday’s 127-117 loss to the Thunder, the Clippers are playing some of their best basketball in what has been so far, a challenging season. L.A. is 4-1 in their last five and 6-2 over their last eight.
The Clippers are 9-5 in their last 14, highlighted by wins over the Rockets, Raptors and Wizards.
Leading the way for L.A. is guard Lou Williams, who was, on Tuesday, named the Western Conference Player of the Week. Williams is averaging 30.1 points over his last seven games and is the top scoring reserve in the NBA, averaging 21.8 points per game off the bench.
In four games back since returning from a left MCL sprain, star forward Blake Griffin has averaged 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 33.3 minutes per game.
24p/9r/7a | Since his return, @BlakeGriffin32 has averaged 23+ points, 6+ assists, and 7+ rebounds. #NBAVote— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 5, 2018
: https://t.co/dJIBPmp531#ItTakesEverything pic.twitter.com/PM30FQb3Jm
The Warriors, owners of the league’s best record, are 16-2 over their last 18 games and have won five of their last six. They are currently riding a three-game win streak and will look to close out a three-game road trip undefeated.
The Clippers hosted the Warriors early in the season, falling 141-114 at home on Oct. 30.
Both teams have been battling the injury bug.
Golden State guard Steph Curry missed 11 games from Dec. 6-29 with an ankle injury. In three games since his return, he’s averaging 33 points, 5.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds. In addition, Warriors forward Kevin Durant missed the Warriors’ game against the Rockets on Thursday due to a right calf strain. However, he is expected to play on Saturday against the Clippers.
Out for the Clippers on Saturday is guard Austin Rivers, who will miss his third consecutive game after being diagnosed with a posterior right ankle infringement on Thursday. Initially, Rivers was thought to have injured his right Achilles in a Dec. 29 win over the Lakers and was listed as day-to-day. But further testing revealed otherwise, and Rivers will be reevaluated in two weeks.
Rivers is in the midst of a career-best season, averaging 15.8 points, 3.6 assists, 1.25 steals, and shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc in 32.7 minutes, all career-highs.
In addition, rookie guard Milos Teodosic did not play in the second half of Thursday’s game due to sore plantar fasciitis. He is questionable for Saturday’s game.
Saturday’s game will tip-off at 12:30 p.m.