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NBA Preview: Clippers Clash with Thunder, Lakers Host Injury-Hit Sixers

The two Los Angeles teams will be involved in the highest-profile matchup in this eight-game NBA Tuesday.

The streaking Clippers will be searching for their fifth-straight win as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in a possible first-round playoff matchup preview.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are set to host the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers, who will be without three starters for their visit to Staples Center.

But of course, SBOTOP NBA fans will also be treated to a number of other interesting matchups, and here’s everything you need to know about all of them.

 

San Antonio Spurs @ Charlotte Hornets

The Spurs are struggling once again. They’ve now lost three of their last four games after losing at home to the Indiana Pacers last night. And the one game they did win was a narrow one-point victory over the Orlando Magic. LaMarcus Aldridge missed his third straight game with a sore right shoulder, while fellow big man Jakob Poeltl is also out with a sprained knee.

But even with those absentees, the Spurs should still have a good shot at beating the Hornets, who have been one of the worst home teams in the league this season at just 9-19. Charlotte will also be without leading scorer Devonte Graham (17.6 PPG) due to a sprained ankle. His absence will be huge for the offensively challenged Hornets, especially with Malik Monk suspended indefinitely.

 

Brooklyn Nets @ Boston Celtics

The Nets are in a slump. They’ve dropped four games in a row, including the first three of their four-game road trip. Spencer Dinwiddie is doing his best to lift the offence in Kyrie Irving’s continued absence, but they are having problems closing out games; three of their four losses have come by four points or fewer.

However, Brooklyn will be hard-pressed to snap that losing streak in Boston, with the Celtics eager to bounce back from a one-point loss in their matchup against the Rockets. Jayson Tatum, who has been on an absolute tear for the last month, is questionable to play due to illness. But All-Star point guard Kemba Walker is probable to return after missing the last five games due to a knee injury.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves @ New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson dunks the ball during the NBA match against the Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson dunks against the Los Angeles Lakers during their NBA matchup

The Timberwolves have arguably been the worst team in the NBA in 2020. Since January 12, they have gone an embarrassing 2-20. D’Angelo Russell has been putting up decent numbers since joining the Wolves, but Karl-Anthony Towns’ absence with a fractured wrist has been hard to overcome.

On the other side of the coin, the Pelicans have been a different team since the return of Zion Williamson. The rookie phenom has been brilliant, averaging 24 points and seven rebounds per game. The Pelicans are 9-7 in 16 games with Zion, although three of those games were against the top teams in the league in the Bucks and Lakers.

 

LA Clippers @ Oklahoma City Thunder

The Clippers mean business once again. After going on a three-game losing streak, they have bounced back to win their last four in a row. That includes a 29-point thrashing of the Denver Nuggets at home.  Paul George has been playing better, with 24 points on over 60 per cent shooting over his last two games.

George will now pay a visit to his old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, who would be the Clippers’ first-round opponents if the playoffs started today. OKC had their five-game winning run snapped in emphatic fashion by the Bucks, who blew them out by 47 points. Danilo Gallinari missed that game with ankle soreness, but he appears set to make his return to the line-up.

 

Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets

Stephen Curry may be getting closer to making his return, but the Warriors are still struggling without him. After finally snapped their eight-game losing skid by beating the Suns, they went right back to their losing ways in their next game as they lost to the Wizards by 14.

Given their struggles, it will be hard to see them staying competitive on the road against the Nuggets. Denver suffered an embarrassing 29-point loss to the Clippers, but they responded well by handing a 15-point beatdown of their own at home to the Raptors. The Nuggets are 24-7 at home, the second-best mark in the West.

 

Toronto Raptors @ Phoenix Suns

Speaking of the Raptors, they have now lost three-straight games after that blowout at the hands of Denver. Fred VanVleet has missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury and remains questionable to return against the Suns.

But even without VanVleet, the NBA 2020 tips have the Raptors favoured to end their losing streak against Phoenix. The Suns have dropped the first three games of their six-game homestand. Their last two losses against the Pistons and Warriors have been particularly poor.

Pascal Siakam dropped 37 points to lead the Raptors to a 118-101 win over the Suns in their first meeting a couple of weeks ago.

 

Philadelphia 76ers @ Los Angeles Lakers

The Sixers’ injury situation just keeps getting worse. Already without their two All-Stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Philly will also be without Josh Richardson for their matchup against the Lakers due to a concussion.

The Sixers put up a surprisingly close fight against the Clippers despite their injuries, but Shake Milton — who had a stunning 39-point game — most likely isn’t going to recreate that performance against the Lakers.

Anthony Davis missed the Lakers’ last game against the Pelicans due to a sore knee and is questionable to play against Philly. But even without their All-Star big man, the Lakers still have LeBron James, who can almost singlehandedly take care of business against this shorthanded Sixers team.

 

Washington Wizards @ Sacramento Kings

Bradley Beal is playing some of the best basketball of his life. The Wizards star has been making NBA 2020 highlights for the last few weeks, where he’s averaged 37 points per game. Those haven’t resulted in too many wins for Washington, although they have won two of their last three games.

But Beal and the Wizards will have a battle on their hands against the in-form Kings, who have won five of their last six games. De’Aaron Fox has been instrumental in Sacramento’s recent success, averaging 23 points and 5.8 assists in his last five games. And he also missed their loss to the Thunder, where they only lost by four points on the road.

 

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