The Portland Trail Blazers (23-5) host the Los Angeles Clippers (20-10) at the Moda Center tonight. This is the first of three regular season match ups between the Blazers and Clippers.
The Blazers will face a fiery Clippers squad that lost to the Golden State Warriors (105-103) last night in Oakland. The Warriors and Clippers showed no Christmas cheer yesterday as there were multiple technicals and skirmishes, including the ejection of Blake Griffin. After four days off, this will be the first of many upcoming challenges the Trail Blazers will face to close out 2013.
Portland Trail Blazers:
- Mo Williams is listed as probable for tonight’s game against the Clippers. A bruised hip was enough of a problem to keep Williams out of practice on Monday. He indicated via Twitter that he participated in practice yesterday though no formal statement was issued.
- CJ McCollum will remain sidelined as he continues recovering from a broken foot.
Los Angeles Clippers:
- J.J. Redick will sit with torn ligaments in his right hand, though it was determined earlier this month that he will not require surgery.
- Maalik Wayns (knee) and Reggie Bullock (ankle) will also be absent, but they do not factor into LAC’s normal rotation.
Keys To The Game:
Defense has to step up on the edge and inside. Chris Paul posted his fourth consecutive double-double yesterday and is averaging 16.8 points and 11.5 assists during that span. On the inside, Blake Griffin is the perfect counterpart to Paul. Griffin is also on a four game double-double streak and is averaging 24.3 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He was named last week’s Western Conference Player of the Week over Damian Lillard.
Threes have to go in. The Trail Blazers shot 34.6 percent from behind the arc versus the Clippers last season. They should have all the confidence in the world in their 3-point shooting as they are leading the league this season with 40.5 percent.
Focus and Execution should be the determining factors. The Blazers are coming off a four day rest and full Christmas bellies. The Clippers are coming into the game with fire and frustration after last night’s loss. If the Blazers execute early and take a lead into halftime, I believe they have a great chance of winning.