With the way the Western Conference is so tightly-packed, every game is important, so Saturday night’s showdown between the 14-11 Denver Nuggets and 18-9 L.A. Clippers is no exception. The Clippers will be trying to win their fourth-straight game overall, which would be their third such streak of the season. They’ve not won five straight.
Denver, meanwhile, will be coming off of a tough 103-99 loss Friday night at the hands of the surprising Phoenix Suns at home. The Nuggets got off to a rocky start to the season under first-year head coach Brian Shaw, but has since rallied and currently sits in the No. 8 spot in the West, a game ahead of Golden State. They have dropped five of their last eight overall, though.
The Clippers’ much improved defense will be tasked with quite a bit tonight, as Denver likes to get up-and-down behind their lightning-fast point guard, Ty Lawson. The Nuggets currently rank 7th in the league in pace (possessions per game) with 98.3. They’re not a great shooting team, however, as they’re middle-of-the-road in both field goal and three-point shooting percentage.
Matt Barnes, who was active the other night against New Orleans but didn’t play, will likely be available for Doc Rivers off-the-bench. He’ll add a much-needed spark to a bench that sorely needs it. The Clippers’ bench is 14th in the NBA in points per game (31.9). Last season, “A Tribe Called Bench” ranked 3rd in the league in scoring at over 40 points per game.
Jamal Crawford’s insertion into the starting lineup lately seems to have helped Jared Dudley get out of his early-season shooting slump, as well. He’s been sizzling from beyond-the-arc, having drilled 10 of his 16 three-point attempts over the last three games. Dudley beginning to heat up is crucial to the Clips’ success, considering Blake Griffin and Chris Paul can’t do it all alone.
DeAndre Jordan has also been gobbling up rebounds and blocking shots left-and-right of late. In Wednesday’s big win over the Pelicans, Jordan hit all six of his shot attempts to go along with 20 rebounds and five blocks. Right now he’s third in the league in rebounding (13 per game) and fourth in blocks (2.2). He’s looking a lot like the player Doc Rivers hoped he’d become, anchoring the Clippers’ defense down low.
J.J. Redick will be out again as he continues to nurse a broken hand, while the Nuggets’ JaVale McGee is sidelined with a knee injury. The Nuggets will get forward Jordan Hamilton back from his one-game suspension served last night for punching OKC center Steven Adams.
Los Angeles will look to continue its stellar play against its Western Conference counterparts. They’re 12-3 against the West, while the Nuggets are just 7-9. Quite curious, then, considering how awful the East is, that the Clips are just 6-6 against teams in that conference.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.