NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
LA Clippers 25 33 34 18 110
Cleveland 40 20 23 25 108
4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST3:30 UAE (+1)00:3019:30 ET5:30 PM CT22:30 , March 22, 2019
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio  Attendance: 19,432

Jostling for playoff position, Clippers face improving Cavs

According to STATS
According to STATS

Los Angeles Clippers at Cleveland Cavaliers

  1. The Clippers are 8-1 this month, tied with the Spurs for the best record in the league. They are averaging 120.1 points in March while shooting 42.3 percent from three -- both are the best in the NBA.
  2. Cleveland has won four straight home games and are 7-3 in its last 10 at the Quicken Loans Arena, averaging 113.8 points. The Cavs were 6-21 at home prior to this stretch, averaging 102.7 points.
  3. The Clippers have won three of the last four games against the Cavaliers, outscoring them by 14.5 points on average. The Cavaliers are averaging 103.9 points against Western Conference Opponents, fewest by any team in interconference play this season.
  4. Danilo Gallinari recorded 24 points against the Pacers on Tuesday, going 8-for-17 from the field. After averaging 17.9 points in February he is averaging 24.0 points this month, the sixth-largest increase (6.1 points) in the NBA (minimum five games each month).
  5. Collin Sexton scored 25 points against the Bucks on Wednesday and has scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. The last Cavaliers' rookie with a streak as long was Ron Harper in 1986-87 (13 games).
  6. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 14.2 points this month, including going 14-for-21 (.667) from three. From December to February he averaged only 9.2 points, shooting 29.9 percent from three.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will be gunning for their third straight win when the Los Angeles Clippers pay a visit to the shores of Lake Erie on Friday.

In their past two wins, the Cavaliers have defeated two teams in playoff positions, Detroit and Milwaukee. Granted, neither Blake Griffin nor Giannis Antetokounmpo suited up for their teams, but for the young Cavaliers, those wins were confidence builders.

The Clippers should provide a good barometer of just how much progress the Cavaliers have made recently. Since the All-Star break, Cleveland is 6-2 at home.

Rookie Collin Sexton has been the catalyst. He's scored more than 23 in seven straight games, surpassing a mark that last was accomplished by Tim Duncan in 1998.

"It just shows that the kid is starting to turn the corner," Cavaliers coach Larry Drew told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "He's really putting together some good games against some really good teams."

Sexton thought it was pretty "cool" to be mentioned in the same breath as Duncan, a certain Hall of Famer when he's eligible in 2020.

"He's a legend. We got the win against the No. 1 team, so that's even better," he said after the Cavaliers defeated the NBA-leading Bucks.

A constant for Cleveland this season has been injuries, and no sooner had Tristan Thompson seen his first action in 26 games following a foot injury and Larry Nance Jr. his first playing time in five games, Kevin Love went down with a possible concussion. No announcement has been made about Love's status for Friday's game.

"We've just been unfortunately plagued by injuries. But if we can get our whole ball club together, we are not what our record shows," Nance told reporters. "I think teams are starting to see that. Anybody that comes in and kind of takes us for what we were is going to be sorely mistaken."

The Clippers can't afford to take the Cavaliers lightly if they want to win their fourth straight game and ninth of their past 10. They haven't played since beating the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and are vying for playoff position with San Antonio and Oklahoma City for the final spots in the Western Conference.

With 10 games to play, Doc Rivers' team still has a chance to climb to the third seed as the Clippers trail the Houston Rockets by three games.

The Clippers have their own rookie guard who is making a name for himself. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists while his defense has improved, his coach said.

"Early in the year, he was getting over picks, he was using his length, blocking shots or changing shots," Rivers said. "And then he got into reaching, and maybe that was fatigue, you never know. Now he's back to sliding his feet again, standing in front of guys and making guys take tough shots over him. And that's what we need him to do."

It would be easy for the Clippers to be distracted with rumors about Rivers' future with the team growing. But before the win against Indiana on Tuesday, Rivers announced he has a verbal deal to remain with the team for "multiple years."

That should calm players' fears and bring them together as they make a run into the postseason.

"It's gonna be fun," Gilgeous-Alexander told the Daily News in Los Angeles. "The fact that he's committed to us the same way we're committed to him every night on the floor is cool."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 21, 2019

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