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Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Preview

The Blazers return to Staples Center as they try for their second southern Californian victory in three days.

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Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers (3-1) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (2-1)

Tonight the Portland Trail Blazers return to Staples Center to play the Los Angeles Clippers, two days after toppling the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Blazers should be smiling from ear to ear after Monday’s performance as they prepare to face a Clippers team playing the second night of a back-to-back. If he plays, can Gary Trent Jr. continue his hot shooting and can the Robert Covington-Derrick Jones Jr. defensive juggernaut lock in on Paul George and Kawhi Leonard like it did LeBron James and Anthony Davis? Carmelo Anthony is also expected to return after going through health and safety protocols.

Wednesday, December 30 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA TV, or see games all season on fuboTV, follow on ESPN+, or the ESPN/Disney Bundle*
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Nassir Little (out), Gary Trent Jr. (questionable)
Clippers injuries: Kawhi Leonard (questionable) Marcus Morris Sr. (out), Jay Scrubb (out)
SBN Affiliate: Clips Nation

*Blazer’s Edge receives a commission when you subscribe through these links.

What To Watch For

  • Portland’s defensive forwards. Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington delivered as advertised against the Lakers, hindering the impact of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The pair’s switchability, length and athleticism have been key components in the team’s first two wins and will again be needed against the Clippers star wings.
  • Kawhi’s possible return. Leonard suffered a gory injury, requiring eight stitches, following friendly fire with teammate Serge Ibaka on Christmas Day. His absence during Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Mavericks was pretty evident. Leonard was also a no-show in Los Angeles’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night. So we’re unsure if he’ll line up against the Blazers for the second night of the Clippers’ back-to-back.
  • Carmelo Anthony. Given the explosion in production from the Blazers bench against the Lakers, how much protection will Melo’s legacy get when it comes to the crunch? As highlighted by Kevin Pelton, there might not be a lot of non-Anthony minutes to go around on the Blazers’ second unit.
  • Gary Trent Jr. What more can be said about the bulldog’s performance against the Lakers - two nights after being handed fewer than six minutes against the Houston Rockets. Trent Jr. proved he was a necessary cog in the Blazer chain, but will he continue the form that put his name in lights in the Orlando Bubble. At the moment, Trent Jr. has been listed as questionable with a right calf strain.

What Others Are Saying

The Clippers won’t play as poorly as they did against the Dallas Mavericks for the rest of the season, according to Sabreena Merchant at Clips Nation.

“It’s hard to even identify one thing the Clippers did well. They shot poorly, they were sloppy with the ball, they were inattentive on defense, and they truly didn’t seem to care half as much about this game as their counterparts did.”

“Fortunately, it’s only one loss, and Leonard will return soon. The Clippers won’t play this poorly again for the rest of the season. There were no fans in the building to witness the disastrous spectacle the Clippers put forth.”

Michael Duarte at NBC Los Angeles highlighted how vulnerable the Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard comparing them to neighbouring Lakers who had no issue covering for Anthony Davis on the same night.

“Each team was playing without one of their two superstars, yet the results could not have been more drastically different.”

“Without Leonard, the Clippers came out flatter than a pancake at breakfast. The Clippers trailed by an NBA record 50 points at halftime, and went on to lose 124-73.”

Former Blazer wing Nicolas Batum is enjoying his fresh start with the Clippers, according to CBS Sports.

“After playing only 23 minutes per game with Charlotte last season, Batum has averaged 32 minutes through the first two contests of the 2020-21 campaign. It remains to be seen how his role will change when Marcus Morris (knee) returns to action, but Batum’s ability to contribute across multiple categories makes him an intriguing fantasy option for as long as he is logging big minutes.”