Pacers to get first glimpse of new-look Clippers
The only team to see the Clippers in the midst of their midseason costume change will arrive in Los Angeles knowing that first-hand experience over a month ago will not tell them anything they need to know heading into a key late-season clash.
The Indiana Pacers will also arrive in L.A. knowing that a victory can clinch a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
A game plan for Tuesday night will have to come from scratch.
A previous Feb. 6 meeting against the Clippers at Indiana came during the Pacers' six-game winning streak, which was also the last time they won as many as three consecutive games. It was also the week of the NBA trade deadline when the Clippers made three separate moves to alter a roster that was fighting for playoff eligibility.
When the Pacers earned a 116-92 victory that night, none of the new Clippers reinforcements were on hand. Johnathan Motley logged a season-high 29 minutes, and for Angel Delgado, it remains the only NBA game he has appeared in (he scored three points).
Former Clippers players who never made it to Indiana that night: leading scorer Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, Marcin Gortat, Milos Teodosic and Avery Bradley.
Clippers players who had yet to arrive by then, but have since helped the team to an 11-4 record, while solidifying L.A.'s playoff chances: Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Jamychal Green, Garrett Temple and Ivica Zubac.
One Clippers player who hasn't gone anywhere is Lou Williams, who is scoring 20.4 points per game off the bench this season and 23.4 per game since all the roster moves went down. Williams' 30-foot 3-pointer while moving to his left at the buzzer Sunday gave the Clippers a 119-116 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
And in typical Williams shun-the-spotlight fashion, everything about his heroics were rooted in modesty.
"We were in a position to win the game," Williams said. "We felt like we had some dead possessions. We let some things slip. We got a five-second call that I thought was a little fast, but it happens in a game. It came down to making a 30-foot fade away for the game. Like I said, you give credit to Brooklyn for that."
The Pacers will enter coming off a 106-98 defeat Monday night at Portland. A Miami Heat defat to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, or a Pacers victory, would have clinched a playoff berth for Indiana. Neither happened.
Despite losing star player Victor Oladipo to a ruptured quadriceps tendon on Jan. 23, and going through a four-game losing streak that followed, the Pacers are 12-8 since and are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
And even with consecutive defeats to start their four-game West Coast road trip, the Pacers have already put themselves in playoff mode where an elite offense can still flourish, but a grittier defensive mindset starts to take hold.
"That's how these games are going to be played," Pacers guard Darren Collison said. "I always feel like when it's high-level basketball against these teams, you still have to find a way to win games and it's not (always) going to be pretty on the offensive end. You have to do it on the defensive end."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 19, 2019