Portland Trail Blazers (33-47) vs Los Angeles Clippers (42-38)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Los Angeles Clippers for the penultimate game of the 2022-23 season. The Blazers have lost their last two games, and if they can stay true to form and lose their next two, they will be in sole possession of the fifth best lottery odds in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Clippers will be happy to assist in that goal as they sit just a game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans, who are both in the play-in. If the Clippers win out, they will end up with the fifth seed in the Western Conference, and avoid the play-in tournament all together.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers - Saturday, April 8 - 1:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Justise Winslow (out), Ibou Badji (out), Jerami Grant (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Damian Lillard (out), Keon Johnson (out), Nassir Little (out), Matisse Thybulle (out), Cam Reddish (out), Trendon Watford (probable), Drew Eubanks (questionable)
Clippers injuries: Paul George (out), Marcus Morris)
More on the Clippers: Clips Nation
What To Watch For
Sharpe is back. After missing the last game due to injury, Shaedon Sharpe is notably absent from the injury report all together. The Blazers’ lottery pick from last summer has been putting on a show since becoming a starter late in the season. He is averaging 24.1 points over his eight starts, and has been reliable for about one highlight dunk per game. With an almost empty Clippers injury report, this game could get ugly quick. However, Sharpe’s presence on the court alone is a reason to keep this game on until the end.
Jostling for positioning. The Blazers aren’t the only team trying to be strategic about their wins and losses. The Clippers currently sit at the five seed, and would draw a very tough Phoenix Suns team in the first round. The prospect of falling into the play-in tournament looms over their head however. How bunched up the Western Conference is may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Blazers, as their opponents can’t afford to try and be picky about their opponent. In a normal year, the Blazers might have to worry about a Clippers team that might benefit from dropping a position, but the Blazers should still be able to see an easy path to a loss in this contest.
Who will earn roster spots. At this point in the season, the only major storyline left for the Blazers is which of the current rotation players will make next season’s roster. Players like Sharpe and Jabari Walker seem to be a given at this point. However, it is more a question of the recent signings for the Blazers: Skylar Mays, Shaq Harrison, Jeenathan Williams, or Justin Minaya. All four have had their moments where they look like real contributors. The last two games of the season will serve as more of a trial run for these players, who all seem like they would make good additions to the Blazers’ bench.
What Others Are Saying
Kawhi Leonard is hitting a different plane at the moment. That period in the fourth quarter where he and Jokic were trading buckets was one of those truly great spells of basketball that you just have to sit and marvel at. Crazy then that it absolutely isn’t the first time this season that I’ve just sat and marveled at what the Clippers’ leading light has been producing.
It was once again a super-efficient outing for Leonard, who scored 33 points on 12-for-19 from the field, including 3-for-4 from deep. While he was a better defender during his time with both the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors, he honestly looks as good offensively as he ever has right now and that should be a warning to every other team in the league.
Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report talked about Russell Westbrook’s impact in a recent win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Los Angeles Clippers earned their 11th straight win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, and nobody savored the 125-118 victory more than Russell Westbrook.
The 2016-17 MVP had 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go along with three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block.