Portland Trail Blazers (1-1) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (0-2)
After a highly disappointing opening night, the Portland Trail Blazers bounced back in style, handing the defending Western Conference Phoenix Suns a compelling 134-105 defeat. Are the Blazers off and running? A trip to Los Angeles might help us answer that question.
The Los Angeles Clippers have played two close games against Memphis and Golden State to start the season but have come up empty both times. Most recently, the Clippers lost 111-108 to Memphis at Staples Center. The Clippers won’t want to go to 0-3, so expect them to give the Blazers their best.
Monday, October 25 - 7:30 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBA TV, ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Norman Powell (out), Tony Snell (out)
Clippers injuries: Kawhi Leonard (out), Jason Preston (out), Keon Johnson (day-to-day), Serge Ibaka (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: Clips Nation
INJURY UPDATES: Casey Holdahl of the Trail Blazers reports that Nassir Little will start in place of the injured Norman Powell.
Marcus Morris is also out for the Clippers.
What To Watch For
- Success from beyond the arc. Head Coach Chauncey Billups famously said in August, “I’m not one of those coaches that wants to shoot all threes and get up 50 threes. I don’t believe in that.” Against the Suns the Blazers got up… exactly 50. To be fair to Chauncey, his point was about quality more than quantity, and the Blazers cashed in on 42% of their attempts. Hard to complain about that. While the Blazers might not put up 50 threes against the Clippers, the key is the conversion rate. 40% or more and Coach Billups (and fans) will likely be happy.
- That extra screen, that extra pass, that extra rotation. For much of the preseason and opening night, the Blazers looked like they were willing to make one screen, make one pass and take one shot. On defense, they’d react to initials action, but if a screen or blown assignment caused the defense to lose shape recovery wasn’t likely. Against the Suns the Blazers were notably better about being patient and persistent on both ends of the court. Far from perfect mind you, but encouraging. Monday night will be helpful in determining if the Phoenix game was a foundation to build on or a fleeting moment at the expense of a team on a back-to-back.
- Paul George. The Clippers’ star is off to a tremendous start, averaging 35 points per game, shooting 56.3% from the field, 43.5% from deep and pulling down 10.5 rebounds per contest. Of course, the Clippers are 0-2, so Paul George going off doesn’t mean a Clippers win. Still, the Blazers would do well to keep George under his young season averages.
What Others Are Saying
SI’s Michael Pina is bullish about Clippers. Maybe not this season, but soon.
Now, even with Leonard recovering from a partially-torn ACL that could sideline him anywhere between four months or opening night of the 2022-23 season (nobody knows!), the Clippers might be as dangerous as they’ve ever been. Even if the championship-or-bust assumption they’ve carried over the past two years no longer remains, the doubt that clouded most of their 2020-21 season has disappeared. Which creates one of this season’s biggest questions: How good are the Clippers, really?
Our old friend Nicolas Batum is profiled by Mirjam Swanson of the Orange Count Register (requires email address to read).
Being able to add new dimensions to his multi-pronged skill set has helped Batum extend his NBA career. It’s helped him rebound from lean years in Charlotte, and, certainly to continue to prosper on the international stage.
SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell reports that Paul George challenged Steph Curry to a logo shoot-off in their opener. It didn’t end well for George.
Curry took him up on the offer with with the Warriors trailing by two points with under two minutes left. Curry sized up George from about 35 feet away, and nailed a go-ahead three-pointer. After another Curry dagger three a minute later, the Warriors had won the game, 115-113, behind Curry’s 45 points.