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Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Preview

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Fresh off of beating the team with the league’s best record, Portland hopes to keep the good times rolling against the Clippers.

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NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers Al Sermeno-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (16-13) at Los Angeles Clippers (17-12)

December 17th, 2018 - 7:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Clippers injuries: Lou Williams (out), Luc Richard 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 look to keep pace in a hyper-competitive Western Conference playoff picture, with fourteen of the fifteen teams separated by just six games. Their last time out they managed to down the short-handed Toronto Raptors 128-122. The second unit erupted in that game with 58 points, and the Blazers would love to see that level of production against the pesky Clips.

The Clippers are swinging the wrong way, having lost five of their last six games. A rally against the Oklahoma City Thunder fell short in their last game 110-104. It is no surprise that their slide coincides with a hamstring injury to their bench leader, Lou Williams, who averages 17.2 points per game off the pine. The Blazers have been a cure for sliding teams recently, and the Clippers would love to stay ahead of Portland.

What to watch for

  • Second Team Shenanigans. The Clips will be without Williams again, depriving the Clippers of their third-leading scorer. Part of the Clippers’ effectiveness this season has come from their bench being every bit as dangerous as their starters, with Williams and Montrezl Harrell ranking third and fourth on the team in scoring despite not starting. Portland’s second unit will be tested.
  • Has Anyone Seen Jusuf Nurkic? Nurkic has fallen off a cliff offensively in his last three games, shooting 21% from the field. For an inside scoring threat that is especially abysmal. The Blazers need their Bosnian Beast to step up against Marcin Gortat and Boban Marjanovic, both players that Nurkic can exploit.
  • Defensive Mismatches. The Clippers offense revolves around their scoring wings, Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari. Portland’s is based around their scoring guards. One way or another, there will be defensive mismatches, and Portland needs to take advantage of theirs while limiting what Harris can do.

What they’re saying

Taylor C. Smith of Clips Nation laments the absence of Lou Williams during the Clippers slide:

Williams isn’t in the midst of his best season, but his absence over the next several games looms large. Tobias Harris is great, but without Williams the Clippers don’t have a go-to secondary source of buckets.

Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times welcomes the Clippers back to LA after several long road trips:

A three-game homestand this week marks the first time the Clippers will have played consecutive games in the same arena in more than a month. Since the team’s last homestand ended Nov. 15, 11 of the Clippers’ last 15 games have come on the road.