New-look Clippers seek strong second-half opening vs. Sacramento Kings
The L.A. Clippers had an impressive start to the 2019-2020 campaign, rolling into the All-Star break at 37-18 and owners of the Western Conference's third seed. Things certainly could have gone better — several injuries derailed lengthy winning streaks, and the lack of continuity has caused some issues on the court — but all things considered, the Clippers are in good shape.
Starting the season's second half on the right foot will be ideal, and L.A. should get a good chance to do so when it hosts the Sacramento Kings Saturday afternoon. The Clippers are favored by 11.5, according to Odds Shark.
L.A. will enter the second half with a mostly familiar core, though some new players were brought in since the Clippers last played at home on February 5.
The Clippers traded for Marcus Morris Sr. the next day, sending out Moe Harkless and Jerome Robinson in the process. Since then, Morris has appeared in three games for L.A., averaging 11.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. Saturday's game will be his first at STAPLES Center in a Clippers uniform.
More recently, the Clippers acquired Reggie Jackson, a veteran point guard who agreed to have his contract bought out with the Detroit Pistons earlier this week.
Unlike Morris, Jackson doesn't project to be a full-time starter — that role still belongs to Patrick Beverley. But Beverley is hurt now, and the Clippers appear to be bringing him back slowly. He practiced on Friday but was ruled out that night.
Therefore, Jackson's first game with the Clippers could well be his first start.
Jackson has started in all but six games he's played in dating back to the 2015-2016 season. During that stretch, he's averaged 16.1 points and 5.2 assists in 28.4 minutes per game. We shouldn't expect to see those numbers replicated in L.A. — Detroit is a different system and Jackson's role with the Clippers is much smaller — but when he starts, there's a chance he could log a double-double or two.
Regardless, the Clippers will need both Jackson and Morris to step up against Sacramento, especially in the absence of Beverley and Paul George. Despite the Kings' 22-33 record, the team is trending up. Sacramento has won five of its last eight, including a 124-103 victory over the Clippers on January 30.
Keeping the perimeter contained will be key. The Kings went 21-of-41 from three-point range in their last meeting with the Clippers, and while a repeat of that performance is extremely unlikely, L.A. won't want to give this team confidence. In addition to the Clippers, Sacramento has already taken down several other heavyweights this season including the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat and Utah Jazz.
Following Saturday's contest, the Clippers will wrap up a brief home stint against the Memphis Grizzlies before traveling to Phoenix.