What to Watch For as the Philadelphia 76ers Challenge the LA Clippers

Philadelphia 76ers
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Shake Milton (18) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia 76ers continue their west-coast trip to take on the LA Clippers as Doc Rivers takes on his former team for the first time.

With just the Nuggets matchup still to go on the west-coast trip, the Sixers will look to take on the LA Clippers in a 10 PM matchup tonight. After notching wins over the short-handed Warriors and Lakers, the Sixers will face their toughest matchup of the trip.

Led by Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers hold a record of 30-16 on the season and sit at third place in the Western Conference. The Clippers rank 2nd in the NBA in offensive rating and 6th in opponents’ points per game, making them a tough matchup for any team. The Clippers also come into this matchup riding a hot streak of their own as they have won their last four games leading up until today.

Doc Rivers Homecoming

The Philadelphia 76ers should thank the Clippers for allowing Doc Rivers to shake free this offseason. Rivers was made the scapegoat for many larger management issues within the organization. While the Sixers were originally linked to current Clippers head coach Tryonn Lue, the Sixers are thankful Rivers has been the man in charge this season.

Doc Rivers had good memories in his seven seasons with the Clippers when looking ahead to this matchup. As Doc put it, “My stint with the Clippers, I really believe, helped change that franchise… When you hear that name (Clippers), you don’t think bad things, you think good things. That was one of my goals.”

Emotions are sure to be heightened for Rivers in this matchup, but that is no reason for him and the rest of the team to take care of business. Expect for him to lean on his professionalism and for Rivers to Put a plan together to stop his old squad.

Philadelphia 76ers Getting Healthier

In positive news, the Sixers are beginning to get healthier. As they look ahead to this matchup, Joel Embiid is now the only player on the Sixers injury report. It is also worth noting that George Hill is not cleared to join the team yet as he is still seeking full clearance on a thumb injury that forced him to miss time with the Thunder prior to being traded.

Seth Curry returned from his ankle injury in the previous game against the Lakers, where he added 19 points on 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc. With Curry back in the lineup, the Sixers have resumed their normal starting rotation.

On the Clippers’ side of things, Patrick Beverly (knee) and Serge Ibaka (back) will both be out for this matchup. It will be a sigh of relief for the Sixers to be without the pest-like energy of Beverly and the 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game that Ibaka provides for the team.

Marcus Morris (calf) and Kawhi Leonard (foot) are each on the injury report as questionable, but early indications seem to be that they will play. Kawhi has been known to be a last-minute scratch from games, so the Sixers have a chance of catching a break if the superstar is forced to rest.

Hot Streak Put to Test

Even without Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers have maintained their dominant form. They now have a 1.5 game lead for first place in the Eastern Conference. In the past 10 games, the Sixers hold a record of 9-1, where they are averaging 117 points per game and holding opponents to 103.7 points.

Danny Green has been averaging 3.5 made three-pointers and 12.9 points on his own over the past 10 games. This is a major uptick over the 2.5 threes and 9.6 points that he averages on the season.

The Clippers hold a 15-6 record on their home-court this season. Re rebounding has proven to be a point of emphasis as they are 21-6 on the season when outrebounding the opposing team. The Clips made an adjustment to their roster over the trade deadline as Rajon Rondo has become the new member of the squad.

In exchange for Rondo, the Clippers sent Lou Williams and two second-round picks to the Hawks. Rondo has had an accomplished career as a floor general, and the Clippers hope he will be the missing key to unlocking their offense alongside Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Rondo is officially listed as day-to-day on the Clippers report, but it seems likely his debut with LA will be tonight.

This will be the first matchup between the LA Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers this season. The Clippers are championship contenders themselves, so the Sixers must come out with the defensive intensity and willingness to push the pace that has been seen in recent weeks. The Clippers open the game as 5 point favorites.