Portland Trail Blazers (5-3) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (6-1)
Nov 9, 2016, 7:30 PST
Watch: CSN NW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Festus Ezeli (out), Al-Farouq Aminu (doubtful)
Clippers injuries: Brice Johnson (out), Paul Pierce (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Clips Nation
On the second night of a back-to-back, The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Los Angeles Clippers for the second time in the young season. When these two teams first met at the Moda Center on Oct. 27, the Clippers were able to impose their will on the Blazers en route to a chippy 114-106 victory that saw multiple technical and flagrant fouls.
This time around, Portland will be hoping to contain Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who scored 27 points a piece, while continuing to rely on the hot shooting of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Lillard, fresh off a 42-point outburst against the Dallas Mavericks, sprained a finger on his left hand in the first half of Portland’s game against Memphis Sunday before tweaking an ankle in the second half. McCollum, after a semi-slow start to the season, tied his career high of 37 points as he scored 16 in the fourth quarter to lead the Blazers to victory after Lillard’s minor injuries.
Both players led the Blazers to a high-scoring 124-121 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, with Lillard scoring 38 points and McCollum pouring in 33.
Portland will be looking for improved bench production after its last three games, in which the reserve unit has scored a total of 46 points in 254 minutes of game action. Los Angeles features an improved bench of its own, with Raymond Felton and Marreese Speights added this summer. Veteran small forward Paul Pierce may make his season debut against the Blazers tonight as well.
Ultimately, however, this game may come down to its stars - Lillard and McCollum vs. Paul and Griffin. The teams’ last matchup was one of the few games where Paul didn’t totally bottle Lillard up, and while Al-Farouq Aminu had some nice defensive possessions against Griffin, it looks like Aminu is unlikely to make the trip to L.A. due to his calf injury. Blazers coach Terry Stotts could look to Noah Vonleh at power forward, or slide Maurice Harkless to the four and insert Allen Crabbe in the starting lineup.
While we’re getting to the point where we can nearly bank on a big game from Lillard every night, Portland will be looking to the supporting cast to not only support him on the offensive end, but show that they can hang with one of the most physical teams in the league. The Blazers will need to play aggressively without overextending and fouling, something they’ve struggled with against the Clippers in the past.
These teams don’t care too much for each other, and there is no reason to believe that the style of play will be different then any of the other times these teams have faced off over the last year.