The Clippers have been a remarkably resilient team this season. They've dealt with numerous injuries since the start of the year and have still won 70 percent of their games despite shuffling through 12 different starting lineups.
Only once this year have the Clippers lost two games in a row, and that came on the road in a back-to-back when the team had Kawhi Leonard for the first game and Paul George for the second. Otherwise, the Clippers have responded to each of their other seven defeats with a win, and usually by a convincing margin.
The Clippers have also done well not to lose to the same team twice in a row – the notable exception being the Milwaukee Bucks. They defeated the Suns Tuesday after losing to them during the first week of the season; they beat the Jazz after losing to them without Leonard; and they beat the Rockets and Pelicans at home after losing to them back-to-back on the road.
Tonight's matchup against San Antonio presents one more opportunity for the Clippers to avenge themselves – the challenge is that they once again face the Spurs on the road, where they lost 107-97 on Nov. 29, the first loss L.A. suffered with both Leonard and George in the lineup.
The Clippers have been a dominant home team (14-2), but merely an average road team at 7-7. It's a relatively quick turnaround to play in San Antonio Saturday after a late-night contest Thursday in Los Angeles, compounded by the fact that the Spurs have been waiting at home. The Clippers also have to think about Sunday's matchup in Oklahoma City, one that promises to be emotional for George.
Suffice it to say, the Clippers' resilience will once again be tested against San Antonio. It's been the theme of their season.
Here's what else to watch for:
- The Clippers have done an outstanding job defending LaMarcus Aldridge thus far this season. He is shooting 7-of-21 and has scored just 22 points through two games. Aldridge was able to be effective as a playmaker in the teams' last meeting with 7 assists, so L.A. will have to be cognizant of its help defense leaving shooters open to collapse on the star center in the paint.
- Derrick White got free for five 3-pointers in the second game after hitting three 3-pointers in the first. The Spurs don't characteristically take a lot of threes, but their offense still creates a lot of motion, and keeping track of their jitterbug guards beyond the arc remains a priority. In addition to White, Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills are both liable to get hot in a hurry.
- San Antonio is no longer a defensive juggernaut, but they did keep the Clippers stars in check during the last game. Leonard, George, and Lou Williams combined for 31 points of 12-of-44 shooting. L.A.'s second-leading scorer was JaMychal Green, and he is questionable to return. The Clippers will need substantially better offensive efficiency to win against the Spurs this time around, ideally by moving the ball and not resorting to isolation basketball.