What's up with the LA Clippers?
Midway through January, the Clippers had a record of 23-24 after a loss to the Utah Jazz. They were well outside the playoff picture. Paul George was out with a hamstring injury while Kawhi Leonard and John Wall were in and out of the rotation due to various reasons. Back then, it seemed like the Clippers were going to end up back where they were last season, in the play-in tournament.
Fortunately, right after that loss to the Jazz, the Clippers won their next game against the San Antonio Spurs. Then they kept on winning. Stringing together five straight wins to pull their way right back into playoff contention. The Clippers have won seven of their last 10 games rising to 31-27 for the season.
It’s no surprise that their latest stretch comes at a time when Leonard and George have been playing more consistently. Leonard and George have only missed one out of the last 10 games. In the nine games they’ve played, they’re combining for more than 50 points per game.
While the two have led the way, they’ve had a lot of help along the way. Terrance Mann has taken on the starting point guard role for the team and has been an effective stopper. Norman Powell and Marcus Morris have also given them an offensive punch.
The Clippers have also made some minor moves to improve the roster. They traded away Luke Kennard and John Wall to bring in Bones Hyland, Eric Gordon, and Mason Plumlee. All three fill in positions of need for the team.
With all of the trades happening around them in the West, the Clippers need all the wins that they can collect to stay away from the play-in. They have a chance to continue their rise in their next game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
What's up with the Milwaukee Bucks?
With players moving from East to West and everywhere in between, the Bucks decided to stand pat. They just made one minor move during the trade deadline, bringing in Jae Crowder for a package of picks.
Why make a major move when they’re one of the hottest teams in the league right now? Milwaukee is just steamrolling their opponents, currently racking up nine straight wins. They’re not just winning, they’re dominating, beating teams by an average margin of 12.1 points in those nine wins.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up monster numbers in the team’s nine-game winning streak. He’s averaging 37.5 points and a whopping 14 rebounds per game during this streak that they’re on. That includes two 50-point games and a triple-double performance while hitting no less than 53 percent of his shots.
He’s putting up MVP numbers and because of that, the Bucks are charging up the East standings, making a run for the best record in the NBA. They’re now only 1.5 games behind the Boston Celtics with no signs of slowing down.
The Bucks are a team that’s built on the singular dominance of Antetokounmpo. That’s why there’s no real need to add a big piece to take away possessions from their All-NBA star. They just need players to space the floor and compliment the Greek Freak.
Milwaukee just chugged along past a wild trade deadline. They’re business as usual against the Clippers, looking to add to their current streak.
Storyline to watch out for
One of the three losses by the Clippers in their last 10 games actually happens to be the closest win by the Bucks in their last nine wins. The two teams met earlier this month where the Bucks pulled out a one-point win at home.
During that game, the Clippers actually held a six-point lead in the final minutes of the game. But Antetokounmpo just willed the Bucks to the win. He scored seven straight points to push Milwaukee ahead, picking his spots against the Clippers’ defense.
That’s a major issue the Clippers have to solve in this quick rematch. How will they stop the Greek Freak, especially in the end game?
With their current roster, only Leonard is equipped with the tools to defend Antetokounmpo. But putting Leonard on him is too taxing for the whole game. So what will the Clippers’ defensive game plan be against the Bucks? They came so close to a win the last time so it will be interesting to see what minor tweaks they make in this game.
Where to watch?
The Bucks put their nine-game winning streak on the line against the Clippers tomorrow at 11:30 AM. The game can be watched live on NBA TV Philippines or through NBA League Pass.