Things have been far from perfect for the Los Angeles Clippers since their acquisition of both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard a few years ago. The duo came into their 4th season as teammates with just 104 games played together, regular season and postseason combined. Leonard, who tore his ACL against the Mavericks during the 2021 Playoffs and missed all of last season, has already missed a month this season dealing with stiffness in that same knee, leaving George to once again shoulder much of the leadership load. It’s a role that George played last year, though he too ended up missing 3 months last season with an elbow injury, making it back in time to help LAC make the play-in round before falling victim to the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols with a case of COVID.
Head coach Tyrone Lue has had his work cut out for him while juggling these issues. Marcus Morris Sr., Reggie Jackson Jr., and Ivica Zubac are still there from that 2021 Western Conference Finals run rounding out the starting lineup, while a bench crew consisting of Norman Powell, Terrance Man, Nic Batum, and John Wall. If Leonard and George can stay healthy, the Clippers are hoping this group can get them over the hump and push the franchise to their first NBA Finals trip ever.
The Spurs meanwhile continue to grind, but after a hot start to the season, they’ve definitely fallen back down to earth. Fans that came into the season expecting the team to tank for the #1 pick and potentially Victor Wembayana are likely breathing a sigh of relief after the way this month has gone, but even with the losing, there’s still been plenty of positives to observe. They come into this matchup possibly shorthanded, but with a day off and some experience against these Clippers, falling 113-106 to them at the AT&T Center at the beginning of the month.
San Antonio Spurs (6-10) at Los Angeles Clippers (9-7)
November 19, 2022 | 9:30 PM CT
Watch: KENS | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (leg, OUT), Blake Wesley (OUT), Keldon Johnson (day to day), Doug McDermott (day to day), Romeo Langford (Covid-OUT), Malaki Branham (ankle - OUT)
Clippers Injuries: Luke Kennard (day to day)
What to watch for
- Kawhi Leonard returned to action for the first time in nearly a month in LA’s comeback win Thursday night against the Detroit Pistons. He played 24 minutes, scoring 6 points, grabbing 5 boards, and dishing out 4 assists. Bringing Leonard along slowly is surely Ty Lue’s game plan, a game plan that was in effect early this season when he decided to bring Leonard off the bench in the 2 games he played before the knee started acting up on him. The Spurs, then, could only see their former star for a limited time tonight.
- The Spurs have allowed their opponents to shoot at least 50% from the field against them in every game on this road trip. On the year, teams are shooting 50% from the field against them, the worst mark in the Association. Part of this is because of how bad they’ve been in transition, where they’re the worst team in the league by a few metrics. Teams are shooting 60% when they get out and run against San Antonio this year on nearly 17 transition FGA.
- On the flipside, the Clippers are in transition nearly 20% of the time on offense and they finish 57% of their attempts.
- Paul George went for 32 points when the Spurs lost to the Clippers in San Antonio, while the Spurs were paced by a career-best 29 from Devin Vassell off the bench. George has carried the bulk of the Clippers’ offense since last season but acknowledged recently in an interview with ESPN that Leonard was the lead option when the subject of super star pecking order lcame up, saying “Kawhi is the No. 1. And I am totally fine with that. I think I try to complement him with being able to take the load off of him.
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