The Los Angeles Clippers are in Portland for a meeting with the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. The Clippers are going into Oregon with some momentum on their side. They are winners in eight of their last nine games. It was only a matter of time before this team went on a long run.
The Clippers have only lost two games this month, which came against the Denver Nuggets on April 1, 101-94, and Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-103. Following that sloppy loss in Philadelphia, the Clippers responded with a 124-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. The Clippers could have named the score in that game.
It’s important to note that Kawhi Leonard was unavailable against the 76ers in that 106-103 loss. With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both playing for the 76ers, it wasn’t a bad effort for the Clippers on the road in the absence of Leonard. When Leonard returned against the Timberwolves, the full potential of the Clippers was on display.
Yeah, it’s only the Timberwolves, but they played a complete game in that outing. Leonard and Paul George are both expected to play against Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. Still absent for the Clippers is Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka. Beverley had surgery on his hand and will be reevaluated in a few weeks. There is still no timetable for Ibaka’s return for a back injury.
The Trail Blazers will have an important piece of their lineup missing on Tuesday night. In fact, it’s their most important piece, as Damian Lillard is scheduled to be absent for another game. Lillard failed to play against the Charlotte Hornets, and it was pretty clear that he was not on the court. The Blazers dropped a 109-101 decision in Charlotte for their third loss in four games.
Along with Lillard, the Blazers will be without center Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic has been in and out of the lineup this season as a result of a knee injury. The Blazers are trying to find the perfect balance with him. They want a fresh and healthy Nurkic for the playoffs, but also don’t want to fall out of position for playoff seeding. At 32-24 and sixth in the Western Conference, there’s a chance they fall back into the play-in tournament. They have a two-game advantage on the Dallas Mavericks going into Portland. Head below for our free Clippers vs. Trail Blazers pick on April 20, 2021.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers NBA Betting Odds:
Clippers vs. Trail Blazers Prediction:
The Clippers have been trying to find a balance when it comes to load management with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as well. I think the Clippers have handled it well so far. In many cases, George had been forced to sit out with an injury, but they did not rush him back at all. He sat out many games this year where he would have played if it were the playoffs, so the Clippers have been cautious with Leonard and George.
Leonard was absent for four games with an injury before he recorded a double-double against the Timberwolves. Note that the Clippers will fly home to play the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night. It would not be surprising to see Leonard or George sit this game out. If Damian Lillard was playing tonight, maybe the Clippers are more aggressive in putting both of their leading contributors on the floor. On a back-to-back, though, and no Lillard, it’s a nice opportunity to give them some rest.
Even without Lillard, the Trail Blazers are still a respectable team that can win games with CJ McCollum and Norman Powell if they’re hitting shots. It’s also important that Carmelo Anthony comes up big off the bench for the Blazers tonight. It was such a lazy and sloppy performance for the Blazers in Charlotte, that I believe they’re going to come back home with a lot more energy despite the absence of Lillard. Conversely, I’m not so confident in seeing a full effort from the Clippers in this one. With that in mind, it’s hard to lay this many points on the road.