Pacers prepare for visit from overhauled Clippers
The rest of the Los Angeles Clippers not headed to an Eastern Conference favorite will pick up the pieces Thursday in a game at Indianapolis against the Indiana Pacers.
The Clippers will be without leading scorer Tobias Harris, fan favorite Boban Marjanovic and key bench player Mike Scott after all three were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that was made official Wednesday.
The Pacers will find that the video from the Clippers' 117-115 comeback victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday will be of limited use as a scouting tool.
Harris scored 34 points in the victory, including the game-winning fade-away jumper in the lane with less than five seconds remaining. Scott played key late defense on Hornets All-Star Kemba Walker. Marjanovic even made an appearance for the final 21 seconds to solidify defense in the lane.
Perhaps the Pacers would be better off checking out another tape of a team from Los Angeles. The Pacers could just use the strategy they employed from their own game Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, when they got off to a fast start and never relented in a 136-94 victory.
That was a Lakers team that included LeBron James, in his second game back from a Christmas Day groin injury, making it the largest margin of defeat in James' career.
"The energy from start to finish was there ... the execution," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said. "On defense we didn't give (away) anything easy. I thought our offense was really good forcing the tempo, pushing the ball with great ball movement. It was a challenge to them to believe in yourself and play the game together."
McMillan vowed for that to be the team's approach at least through the next four games remaining until the All-Star break, starting with the matchup against the Clippers.
After losing their first four games after Victor Oladipo (knee) was lost for the season, including a 32-point blowout by the Golden State Warriors, the Pacers have now won three consecutive games with their 42-point triumph. Indiana is otherwise healthy, besides Doug McDermott (ribs) being day-to-day.
The Clippers will get back four picks (two firsts, two seconds), guard Landry Shamet and forwards Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala from the 76ers, but the forward addition they are most anticipating is Danilo Gallinari, who has missed the last 10 games with back spasms.
Harris led the Clippers with 20.9 points per game, but Gallinari has scored 19 a game this season, so if he returns Thursday as expected, the offense will still have a scoring punch.
What the Clippers figure to work on is not getting into big early deficits. During the first three games on their current six-game road trip, the Clippers have twice come back from 20-point deficits to earn a victory.
Much of L.A.'s success Tuesday had to do with shooting 75 percent (18-of-24) from 3-point range, but Harris and Scott combined to go 9-of-11.
It means that the Clippers will have much to overcome against the Pacers, whether Gallinari returns or not.
"Lordy, lordy, it's the comeback trip," Rivers told the media after Tuesday's game.
Now, the trip will be known for something else entirely.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 6, 2019