In the first minutes, Westbrook should be the team's floor general, controlling the pace of the game. This leaves Harden with the role of an off-ball catch-and-shoot option — a lethal one, to be clear. When with the starting lineup, the 10-time All-Star should use his dribble to create chances, move the ball and spot up from deep instead of hogging the ball in isolation plays.
The first substitution of the four stars should be Russell Westbrook — as it often has been. Sure, the UCLA product is a capable ball handler who pushes the team's pace and excels in transition. But as the game progresses, he becomes more and more susceptible to run-ending turnovers and bad shot selection.
When Westbrook is off the floor — soon followed by the superstar duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard — the ball will naturally be in Harden's hands. In the final minutes of the first quarter, the Arizona State product should get the green light to do what he does best: put defenders in an island and score.
James Harden should be closing first quarters for the Clippers
Accompanying Harden should be the likes of Ivica Zubac, Norman Powell, PJ Tucker and Terance Mann. Zubac will provide the size for the Los Angeles native to go to his usual high pick-and-roll action, while the three wing players act as capable three-point shooters who can space the floor.
This means that Harden will play most of the opening quarter, while the trio of Westbrook, George and Leonard get ample rest. In turn, it will be these three players sharing the court to start the second quarter. There is palpable chemistry among the three stars, who have played together in the final games of last season and all throughout the preseason.
From the time Harden checks back in until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Lue should look to be flexible. If George heats up, draw plays for him, and if Leonard looks unstoppable from the mid-range, give him the ball. The Clippers, after all, have lots of pieces to play around with.