On Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs will be in Los Angeles to face the Clippers at the Staples Center. The Clippers have spent most of the 2017-18 season battling for a playoff seed in the Western Conference and sit two games behind the New Orleans Pelicans for eighth.
Although just two games separate the Clippers from a playoff spot, the team has only won four of its last 10 and has lost two in a row. The Spurs are trending in the opposite direction, winners of two in a row and eight of their last 10. Thanks to their recent success, San Antonio sits in fourth place in the West, a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Tuesday’s matchup will pit one of the NBA’s best defenses against one of the best offenses. The Clippers come in with the seventh highest offensive rating in the NBA, while the Spurs have the NBA’s third best defensive rating.
San Antonio Spurs (45-32) at Los Angeles Clippers (41-36)
April 3, 2018 | 8:30 pm CDT
Watch: TNT ; Listen: WOAI 1200AM
Spurs injuries: Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management)
Clippers injuries: Patrick Beverly (right knee), Avery Bradley (abdomen), Jawun Evans (abdomen), Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia)
Now let’s jump into what you should watch for in this game:
Matchup to watch: Tobias Harris vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
Over the past two games, which the Spurs have won against Western Conference playoff teams, Adridge is averaging 24 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in just over 35 minutes per game. Tobias Harris will most likely be guarding LMA all night and this will be a place the Spurs can expose the Clippers. Harris has a 0.0 defensive box plus/minus this season, making him a league-average defender.
Player to watch: Patty Mills
Unlike LMA, Patty Mills has been struggling as of late. Over the Spurs last four games, Mills is averaging just 10.7 points, 3.2 assists on 34 percent shooting from the field. In three of those four games, he was unable to scrap together a positive plus-minus, which was especially evident in the loss to the Washington Wizards last week, in which he had a plus-minus of -18. With San Antonio playing of the best offensive teams in the NBA, Mills will have to step up and not only shoot the ball more efficiently but set up his teammates in optimal situations.
Defensively, Mills will have one of the toughest challenges of the season. Lou Williams has been the best offensive weapon for the Clippers, averaging 22.7 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting. Mills will have his hands full trying to slow him down.
Vegas line: Spurs by 1.5.
Game prediction: Spurs by 5.
For the Clippers fans’ perspective, visit Clips Nation.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.