LA Clippers: What to watch for against Melbourne United

The LA Clippers will play their fourth preseason game Sunday, hosting Australian club Melbourne United. Here’s what you should keep an eye on.

The LA Clippers’ preseason schedule enters its second half this afternoon, when they host Australian club Melbourne United at STAPLES Center. LA has gone 1-2 to this point, but their record doesn’t exactly tell the full story.

Kawhi Leonard, LA’s healthiest superstar, has been on the floor for roughly 11 minutes of action through the first three games. Other key players, like Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, have taken days off as well.

That’s perfectly normal, too. The preseason doesn’t serve much of a purpose, other than for the coaches to begin to figure out which rotations work and which don’t, and for some players to get their first (and potentially final) taste of the NBA. As soon as the final preseason game is played, it’s essentially out the window. No one ever talks about the preseason once teams get into the thick of their regular season schedule, with very few exceptions.

That being said, this afternoon’s game is unique. This will be LA’s first-ever matchup with Melbourne, one of the premier teams in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL). They’ve won five titles since being founded in 1984, with the most recent coming in 2018.

The level of competition will be similar to what the Clippers faced against the Shanghai Sharks, so this one should swing LA’s way. That being said, there are a few things to keep watch of.

Inactive Players

In addition to Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers will sit a few other players ahead of Sunday’s matchup. Rodney McGruder is expected to miss again as he rests a non-serious ankle injury, and Terance Mann is considered questionable after suffering a potential hamstring injury in practice.

Assuming Mann misses, the bench point guard position will be wide open. I would expect Jerome Robinson to fill that role, who has been especially solid lately.

LA also waived Terry Larrier and James Palmer Jr. Friday, reducing their roster total. With that, we could see a few of the Clippers’ back-end players like Patrick Patterson and Mfiondu Kabengele to get some more time on the floor.

More Trezz Domination

Montrezl Harrell has had a strong start to his preseason, averaging 14.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He’s also started to show off his jumper a bit, which he’s been consistent with.

Hitting that shot on a regular basis this season could make Harrell even more dangerous than he already is. There’s no better time for him to work on it than during the preseason, so expect to see him pulling up from outside the paint this afternoon.

Harrell started against the Denver Nuggets Thursday, which was unusual for the big man. If that doesn’t end against Melbourne, expect it to before the regular season begins.

Shamet’s shooting

Landry Shamet began his preseason with a few shaky performances but bounced back Thursday against Denver. He connected on two of his five attempts from three-point range, bringing his percentage from deep up to 17.6 percent for the preseason.

That’s obviously far off from what we would expect him to make, but at this point, it’s nothing to be concerned about. That shot will fall when it matters most.

Look for him to continue firing away, and to take on more ballhandling duties today against Melbourne — the latter especially if Mann ends up sitting.

The LA Clippers and Melbourne United will face off today at 12:30 p.m. PT at STAPLES Center. As usual, stay tuned to @ClipperholicsFS on Twitter for live updates!