The LA Clippers face off against the Portland Trail Blazers this evening, in what could easily be a preview of the playoffs. Currently, the Clips sit in the third seed and the Blazers in the sixth, so if nothing changes, these teams will see each other in the first round.
Of course, there’s still plenty of time for things to change, and this one game isn’t going to tell us everything we need to know, but getting a chance to test yourself against a potential playoff opponent is always beneficial.
The LA Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers game could very well be a first round playoffs matchup preview.
As always when playing Portland, the big question will be how the LA Clippers slow down the dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The Clips have struggled against guards this season – 4 of the top 5 scorers against LA this season are guards – and in a playoff series you can never count out Dame.
The LA Clippers have been playing inspired defense lately, led by the addition of Ivica Zubac into the starting lineup. The Clips are a top 5 defense in the last 11 games (i.e. since Zu became the starter) by defensive rating. That said, the Portland Trail Blazers are a top 3 offense in that span by offensive rating, so it will be a test.
It will also be an interesting data point as we go into the playoffs. The LA Clippers have been a very good defense, but some of the teams they’ve played haven’t been at full strength (I’m looking at you, Los Angeles Lakers).
This game will give the LA Clippers a chance to test their mettle against a potential playoff opponent that has a high powered offense. I’m not worried about the Clips on the offensive end – the Trail Blazers are a bad defensive team. But this will be one of the best offenses they’ve faced since the All Star Break.
Playoff previews are always fun and exciting, and this one is no different. The LA Clippers have struggled against guards, and the Trail Blazers have one of the best guard duos on the league. We won’t be able to draw too many conclusions from this one game, as the Clips are missing two of their better defenders in Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka. But if they can slow down Dame and CJ, they’ll get a little momentum boost should these teams meet in the playoffs.