The Scouting Report: at Los Angeles Clippers
Projected starting line-up: Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan Luc Mbah a Moute is a starter in 2015! What a time to be alive! The Los Angeles Clippers haven’t played the way many have expected. Blowing a 23-point lead at home against the Warriors 10 days ago sent them on a tailspin that the excellent play of Blake Griffin wasn’t able to salvage. But after losing four out of five, including Nov. 20 against the Blazers in Portland, the Clippers have bounced back a little bit. Doc Rivers started Lance Stephenson in the Nov. 20 meeting but he’s since been moved to the bench, first for Wesley Johnson and on Sunday for Mbah a Moute. The Clippers got a nice win at home against the Timberwolves in a Sunday matinee, so they may be a little tired on the second of a back-to-back even though they didn’t have to travel. The Clippers are a good team and have been a fringe contender the past few seasons, but it seems like the new additions just haven’t given them what they’ve needed. At least not yet. Paul Pierce’s age is a major limitation which keeps him from being able to be a contributor every night. Pierce will be key in the playoffs but the only way he’ll be effective then is if he can bide his time and save his energy for playoff time. That’s why the acquisition of Stephenson looked as though it had the potential of being such a good move. If the Clippers could get out of him what the Pacers did, giving up Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes in a trade would be worth it. But as each day goes by that we see Stephenson, the harder it is to believe that he’ll just turn it around quickly. Lance’s role has fluctuated and he’s a good bet not to see the floor during crunch time because of his propensity for mental mistakes. The fit just isn’t what it needs to be. Austin Rivers will once again draw the assignment against CJ McCollum in second units, which went very well for McCollum the last time these two teams met. It seemed like every time Rivers was on McCollum, CJ would put him through a series of deadly cross overs in order to get Rivers on a vine. Jamal Crawford gave Portland problems up at the Moda Center and was really the only Clippers to have a good game that night other than Griffin, which has been a theme for the Clippers this year. But an interesting development between these two teams is the point guard battle. For most of his career, Lillard has struggled in games against Chris Paul, going 3-6 in nine games against him while averaging 17 points. Paul is averaging 24 points and 11 assists against Lillard for his career but he was stifled in the last meeting with 11 points and eight assists on 4-of-12 shooting. Is this a changing of the guard in that match-up or will Paul put on a vintage performance to remind why he was named “Point God,” for most of his career. At 9-8, they’re still in fine position and the West is very close with the exception of Golden State and San Antonio that they should still be able to get a top-3 seed. But they’ve been having trouble against everyone lately and this is a good chance for Portland to score a road win against another conference foe.