Through their first 12 games of the season, the LA Clippers have gotten a look at almost all of their Pacific Division rivals. They've topped the Los Angeles Lakers, defeated the Phoenix Suns and split a series with the Golden State Warriors. But on Friday night, the Clippers will get their meeting with the Sacramento Kings — and things could get interesting.
On paper, this looks like a blowout waiting to happen. The Clippers have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and while the Kings sit just below .500, they've already suffered three losses by at least 20 points. Two big reasons for that? The Clippers have the league's third-best offense, while the Kings rank dead last in defensive rating and points allowed per game.
However, there are a few reasons why this contest could end up being a lot closer than we would anticipate. For one, the Kings have rattled off some impressive wins against quality opponents. Four of their first five wins have come against the Suns, Denver Nuggets (twice) and the Indiana Pacers, with the other being a narrow victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Sacramento boasts some impressive young talent, though no player has been more of a surprise this year than rookie Tyrese Haliburton. The 20-year-old guard's counting stats are impressive, as he's averaging 12.6 points, 5.7 assists and 2.9 rebounds per contest and connecting on 52.1% of his looks from three-point range, but his high basketball IQ and subtle confidence is what's really turning heads.
Of course, the Clippers have more than the required defensive personnel to handle such a player, but there's a chance that a key one could be out on Friday night.
Patrick Beverley — one of LA's most important players — is officially listed as questionable to play due to personal reasons. What's more, Lou Williams is also questionable with hip soreness. If both players end up missing tonight's contest, we'll likely get a heavy helping of Luke Kennard, Terance Mann and Reggie Jackson — a trio with major defensive concerns.
No matter the case, expect Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to carry most of the load on offense. The Kings lack a wing stopper, and both of LA's stars have been particularly hot to start the season.
How to Watch
Matchup: LA Clippers (8-4) vs. Sacramento Kings (5-7)
Date: Friday, January 15
Time: 7:00 p.m. PT
Venue: Golden 1 Center
Broadcast Information: NBA League Pass
Spread: Clippers -7
Moneyline: Kings +220, Clippers -270
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook