As the LA Clippers gear up to face the Charlotte Hornets this Tuesday, they're looking to rebound from a recent slump that interrupted an impressive 9-0 winning streak. The team's recent struggles, including losses to the OKC Thunder (134-115) and the Boston Celtics (145-108), have been partly attributed to the absence of star player Kawhi Leonard due to a hip injury.
With a 17-12 record, the Clippers currently hold the sixth spot in the Western Conference, and the upcoming game against the Hornets presents an opportunity to regain their footing. The Hornets, on the other hand, are grappling with their challenges.
Their ace, LaMelo Ball, remains sidelined with an ankle sprain, and their No. 2 pick, Brandon Miller, is also questionable for the game. Leonard's participation for the Clippers remains uncertain, as he's listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision following his injury sustained against the Dallas Mavericks.
Clippers' Season Revamp
The Clippers have undergone significant changes this season, most notably the blockbuster trade on October 31st that brought James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers. In exchange, the Clippers traded Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., Robert Covington, and Kenyon Martin Jr.
Additionally, the team welcomed PJ Tucker, bolstering their lineup. Despite initial struggles with rotation and chemistry, the Clippers have found their rhythm, thanks in part to Russell Westbrook's decision to come off the bench and the acquisition of Daniel Theis on a minimum deal.
Since December, the Clippers have shown remarkable improvement, boasting the third-best offensive rating (123.9) and the seventh-best defensive rating (119.0) in the NBA during this period. This turnaround is a testament to the effective integration of new players and strategies.
If Leonard is cleared to play against the Hornets, the Clippers are expected to maintain their recent lineup. James Harden would lead as the point guard, flanked by Terance Mann and Paul George. Leonard, if available, would play at the power forward position, with Ivica Zubac as the center.
The bench, led by Norman Powell and Russell Westbrook, remains a crucial part of the Clippers' strategy, with Daniel Theis and Amir Coffey providing reliable support. In Leonard's absence, Coffey might step up as the starting small forward, shifting George to the power forward spot.
The Clippers' depth chart is a blend of experience and emerging talent, poised to make an impact in the upcoming game and beyond:
- Point Guards: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Bones Hyland
- Shooting Guards: Terance Mann, Norman Powell, Joshua Primo
- Small Forwards: Paul George, Amir Coffey, Brandon Boston Jr.
- Power Forwards: Kawhi Leonard, Kobi Brown, PJ Tucker
- Centers: Ivica Zubac, Daniel Theis, Moussa Diabate