Clippers vs. Blazers Game Notes: The Moe Harkless Revenge Game
The Clippers gamely battled against the Milwaukee Bucks in the front end of their nationally-televised back-to-back. Now, they go for the split against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on TNT at 7:30 p.m.
The Western Conference finalists from a year ago have had a rough start to the season, sitting at 3-4 after losing to the severely undermanned Golden State Warriors. Here's what to watch for:
- The Moe Harkless revenge factor
Harkless spent the last four seasons in Portland as a key piece of their rotation, but was traded over the offseason so that the Blazers could acquire Hassan Whiteside. Harkless spoke fondly about his time in Portland at media day, though it was hard not to be in a good mood when he was flanked by members of the Oklahoma City Thunder after their dramatic first-round series.
When asked Wednesday about how the Blazers are doing now, Harkless said, "I don't know what they’re doing over there, and frankly I don't care. I'm focused on what we've got going on here." Here's hoping Harkless gets some extra time to shine against his former team.
- Kawhi Leonard is going to eat.
The Blazers are lacking in forward depth after losing Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu (another former Clipper, incidentally) over the summer, and subsequently losing Zach Collins to a shoulder injury this past week. With all due respect to Eric Paschall, his career night came against a team starting Rodney Hood and Anthony Tolliver at the 3 and 4. It borders on malpractice to expect either of those two players to guard Leonard. Portland's bench options at forward include Skal Labissiere and Mario Hezonja, neither of whom inspire any fear on the defensive end.
In addition to Leonard, expect Harkless to have his way against the diminutive Blazers in the post. The same should apply for Montrezl Harrell, unless...
- Will the Clippers wear down on the back-to-back?
Portland hasn't played since Monday, while the Clippers went down to the wire against Milwaukee last night. Harrell and Lou Williams each played 39 minutes, while Patrick Beverley played 35 and JaMychal Green played 32.
Fortunately, the Clippers have a great deal of depth, namely Leonard, to handle additional minutes tonight. Ivica Zubac was barely used against the Bucks and figures to see heavy minutes against Whiteside, and Patterson and Rodney McGruder played 13 and 12 minutes, respectively.
- Is Landry Shamet's shooting really back?
Over the first seven games of the season, Shamet essentially had one good offensive quarter, the first quarter against Charlotte when he had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Wednesday's game against Milwaukee started off as another struggle, as Shamet was scoreless through the first three quarters on four shot attempts. He also had difficulty defending at the point of attack, as Eric Bledsoe repeatedly blew by him to the basket.
The offense turned around in the fourth, as Shamet mirrored his performance against the Hornets with another 14-point quarter on 5-of-6 shooting, including a ridiculous banked three that pulled the Clippers to within two points with 23.2 seconds left. If Shamet can break out of his shooting slump sooner than later, that will help relieve the offensive burden on the Williams/Harrell duo.