Skip to main content

After falling just short in each of their first two games, the LA Clippers will search for their first win on Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. Since Paul George arrived to Los Angeles, he has not lost to Damian Lillard and the Blazers, so he will look to keep that streak alive in this matchup.

The Clippers have beaten the Trail Blazers six straight times, sweeping the season series each of the last two years. This has largely been due to their ability to limit Damian Lillard, who has been virtually non-existent against the Clippers in their recent matchups. In three games between the Clippers and Blazers last season, Lillard averaged 15.5 PPG on 17.9% from the field and 7.1% from deep. Yes, these were his numbers. He went just 5/28 from the field, and 1/14 from deep against the Clippers last season.

Much of this was due to the defensive prowess of Patrick Beverley, who is of course no longer with the Clippers. Without him, the team will likely have a much more difficult time containing Lillard than they did last year. Backcourt defense has been an issue to start the season for the Clippers, and the absence of Beverley is being felt. The team has already gone up against two dynamic guards in Steph Curry and Ja Morant, and the two had their way. Through two games, the duo of Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe has a 136.5 DRTG in their 50 minutes together; however, it is worth noting that this number improves significantly to 100.0 when Bledsoe is on the court without Jackson. 

With the Trail Blazers utilizing a two-guard attack of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, it is going to be tough for the Clippers to contain both of them if their point of attack defense remains as poor as it has been to start the season. McCollum is off to a great start already, averaging 31.0 PPG through two games. As previously mentioned, the Clippers have gone up against elite guards in each game so far; however, there aren't many nights in the Western Conference when that is not the case.

A potential adjustment the Clippers could make in a game like this, is deploying Justise Winslow. After not seeing any action in the loss against Memphis, Winslow could be an extra defender that the Clippers utilize against Portland's guard duo. This would certainly be a viable option to help bolster the team's defense, especially when Eric Bledsoe rests.

Read More

The Clippers will get a bit of a break in this one, because after suffering a left knee injury in Saturday's win over the Suns, Norman Powell has been ruled out of Monday's matchup against the Clippers. It was reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Powell avoided a serious injury; however, he is not yet ready to return.

While there are some matchup disadvantages for the Clippers against Portland, there are many that work in their favor as well. The most prominent of these, is Portland's inability to slow down Paul George. In three games vs. Portland last season, George averaged 30.7 PPG on 58/46/89 shooting splits. They had absolutely no answer for him, and it was a big reason why the Clippers swept the season series.

George has been off to an MVP-caliber start to this season, currently leading the league in scoring at 35.0 PPG, and doing it on 56% from the field. After the loss to Memphis on Saturday, Reggie Jackson said that the team should not need 40 points from George just to have a chance to win. Hopefully the supporting cast gets the message, and can provide him with some assistance in this one.

Another positive for the Clippers entering this matchup, is that despite the usual absences of Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, and Jason Preston, who all remain injured, Keon Johnson is the only other player listed on the injury report. For the third straight game, Johnson remains questionable with an illness; however, no other Clippers are expected to be out. This means the team will have an opportunity to utilize their full rotation of players that they expected to begin the season with.

In a Western Conference that projects to be jam packed with numerous teams fighting for playoff positioning, every game against those potential playoff teams is important. The Trail Blazers project to be one of those teams who will fight for a playoff spot with the Clippers, and while it is just game three, each game counts equally towards the season total. The Clippers need to find their way into the win column, and they will look to do so on Monday night vs. Portland.