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Clippers vs. Bucks Preview: Can L.A. Silence the Greek Freak and Co.?

Game Information

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

When: 12:30 p.m. PST

How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Sports Go App

How to Listen: AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups

LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Boban Marjanovic

Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez

Injuries

Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute (Knee) – Out, Avery Bradley (Ankle) – Out, Tobias Harris (Illness) – Probable

Bucks: None

The Big Picture

The Clippers currently stand at 6-5 after a tough loss against the streaking Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night. The Clippers schedule up to this point has been nothing short of brutal and Saturday’s game will be no different, squaring the Clips up against the 9-2 Milwaukee Bucks. The Clippers are a top 10 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency so far this season, but their record doesn’t really indicate this. This is probably partly due to a tough early season schedule, and partially due to some games that could have gone either way. Regardless, this Clippers team has shown an immense amount of fight, and is never an easy out. They have surprised members of the NBA media with their depth, ability to score and defend, and their chemistry thus far. Hopefully all of this can translate to a home win Saturday afternoon.

The Clippers are being led by their dynamic forward duo of Tobias Harris (20.7 points, 8.7 rebounds a game) and Danilo Gallinari (20.0 points, 5.6 rebounds a game) as well as superb bench production from Lou Williams (19.2 points, 3.5 assists a game) and Montrezl Harrell (12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds a game). Head coach Doc Rivers has presented a few lineup changes due to injuries to starting guard Avery Bradley and key reserve Luc Mbah A Moute in recent games. Starting in Bradley’s place is standout rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who had a career high 19 points on Thursday. Jerome Robinson, SGA’s fellow draftee, has also been consistently inserted into the lineup and was the only Clippers who posted a positive in the plus/minus Thursday. He is a solid shooter but will need to work on his defense more if he wants to maintain his place in the lineup. Expect to see more minutes from Jerome Saturday.

The Antagonist

What a difference a new coach can make huh? With Mike Budenholzer now at the helm, the Bucks are trucking along in the Eastern Conference and currently hold a 9-2 record. Along with Thursday night’s opponent, Portland, the Bucks are the only other team in the top-5 in offensive and defensive rating to start the season. They are also fifth in pace, first in net rating, first in defensive rebounding, and seventh in blocked shots per game. The Clippers will surely have their work cut out for them come Saturday afternoon.

The Bucks are led by a potential MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo who, through 11 games, is averaging 25.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. Milwaukee averages 121.3 points per game, good for second in the league. The Greek Freak gets help from budding star Khris Middleton (19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds per game), the resurgent Eric Bledsoe (13.9 points, 6.3 assists per game), former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon (13.1 points 3.7 rebounds per game) and new acquisition Brook Lopez, who’s putting up 11 points a game. The Bucks are super balanced and will be looking to push the pace to its breaking point against the Clips.

Notes:

Is Tobias O.K.?: Reports started to trickle in Thursday afternoon, before the Portland game, that Tobias was ill and could potentially sit out. While he decided to go for it, he had his worst shooting game of the season, going 6-for-16, and looked a little out of it. With a day and a half to recover, let’s hope the potential All-Star candidate will be good to go.

Three-point shooting comes back to earth: Thursday night was the first time in three games that L.A. shot under 39% from three. While the Clips started off the season slowly in this department, they have recent caught fire and hopefully can return to shooting above 39% again come Saturday.

Maybe Ty time?: Ty Wallace has gotten very little playing time from Doc this season. While he doesn’t help much in the shooting department, Ty is one of the best guard finishers on this team, and provides tenacious perimeter defense. It’s understandable that Doc and Co. want to give time to their lottery pick in Robinson, but Ty could provide a quick burst of defense and help contain Bledsoe and Brogdon come Saturday.

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