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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers Preview

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The Blazers hope some home cooking will help make things right against the flying Clippers.

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Los Angeles Clippers v Washington Wizards Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (12-7) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (12-6)

Sunday, November 25 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Clippers injuries: Luc Mbah a Moute (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Clips Nation

The Portland Trail Blazers are surely happy to be home after a long and largely disappointing road trip. It wasn’t just going 2-4; losing by 9, 16, 43 and 28 has a lot of people asking if the Blazers’ 12-7 record isn’t an aberration. No better way to find out than taking on the red-hot, Western-Conference-leading Los Angeles Clippers, winners of six out of their last seven.

The Clippers are having an unexpectedly good season, doing it without any superstars. One weakness though is that they’ve had some problems on the road. In fact, all but one of the Clippers’ losses came in the other teams’ building. Most notably, one of those losses was on November 8 against the Blazers. On that night, the bench came through with 41 points for the Blazers in a 116-105 win.

What to watch for

  • Crazy bench production from the Clippers. The Clippers bench leads the NBA with 55.9 points per games, 6 points higher than any other team. Portland doesn’t have to match that kind of production, but it does need to improve on recent efforts. The Blazers bench started out the season well, but lately have been miserable, most recently tallying a pathetic 19 points against Golden State. The Blazers simply need to see more points from the bench to have a chance.
  • A parade to the free throw line if Portland isn’t careful. The Clippers lead the league in personal fouls drawn at 25.4 per game. Compare that to the Blazers in 20th place at 21.2 fouls drawn per game. The Clippers are also making teams pay for those fouls by scoring 24.2 points per game from the charity stripe. The Blazers only get 19.7 points per game from free throws. Portland must avoid cheap fouls and get some foul shots themselves.
  • Beware of the 4th quarter. The Clippers have shown a tremendous knack for coming out on the victorious side of games that are close after three quarters. Out of the last seven Clipper games, all but one had a lead of less than 10 points by one team or the other going into the 4th quarter. The Clippers won all of those close games. Ironically, the only game they lost over that stretch was a game that the Clippers had a 13-point lead in going into the fourth quarter, eventually losing 118-125 against the Washington Wizards after a disastrous 23-39 fourth.

What they’re saying

Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times writes about the fun and surprising Clippers:

After DeAndre Jordan followed Chris Paul and Blake Griffin out the door, the Clippers were considered a fringe playoff contender this season, deep and hard-working but not the equal of their flashy predecessors. But here they are, leading the Pacific Division and in a four-way tie atop the Western Conference before Portland faced Golden State on Friday night. The nobodies have become a somebody, and they’re enjoying every dramatic minute of it.

The Clippers are doing it with depth according to James Herbert on cbssports.com:

In an era of superteams, the Clippers have been killing everybody with depth. Their bench has not only been the best in basketball by aggregate net rating, it is scoring almost as much (56.1 points per game) as their starters (61.8 points per game), which is unheard of. A friend of mine compared them to the X-Men, and not just because Boban Marjanovic looks like an actual action hero: everyone has a special skill.

Not all is going smoothly for the Clippers. Robert Flom on Clips Nation reports that Milos Teodosic wants out, perhaps soon than later:

Milos Teodosic has not had the season many of us may have expected over the summer. He’s only played in 8 games so far, and averaged a mere 10.3 minutes in those contests. He’s actually played quite well in those limited minutes, but his poor defense and the depth of the Clippers’ roster means he hasn’t been able to get on the court as much as he may like.

And now, in an interview with a (Serbian newspaper?) he’s revealed that he might be parting ways with the Clippers sooner than later. Translated in this article on eurohoops.net, Teodosic says he will “return to Europe for sure”, but doesn’t know whether it will be “during this season or at the end”.