Game Preview: Celtics at Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are coming off one of their best defensive performances of the season. The Boston Celtics are not.
The more upbeat of the two will go for their fourth win in five games Wednesday night at home as Clippers coach Doc Rivers looks to beat his former team for the second time this season.
The Clippers held Orlando to 35.7 percent shooting in a 101-81 home win on Monday, their second game without star point guard Chris Paul.
"You couldn't really ask for a better game from a lot of guys tonight," Blake Griffin said. "I mean, guys were hitting shots, guys were defending, guys were getting steals, we were running people off the 3-point line - we did all the things that we wanted to do. And that's always encouraging. It's good to have a game like that after having such a poor first half in San Antonio."
Saturday's 116-92 loss to the Spurs was Los Angeles' first game without Paul, who is expected to miss six weeks with a separated shoulder. In his absence, the Clippers have turned to Darren Collison. He scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting with seven assists against the Magic.
"I think the biggest change D.C. made today was that there were three or four times where he could have shot the ball and instead gave it to one of his teammates," Rivers said. "When a point guard gives up shots that he could take, it's almost like the other guys want to pay it back and get it back to him."
The Celtics have dropped five in a row after losing 129-98 Tuesday in Denver, the second stop on a five-game trip against Western Conference foes. They allowed 103 points through three quarters and fell to 3-10 this season against the West. Dating back to last season, they've lost 11 straight road games against the opposite conference.
Boston will try to end that streak against its former coach.
The Clippers beat the Celtics 96-88 on Dec. 11 in Rivers' first game back in Boston, where he coached the previous eight seasons.
His former team had a new face on the bench Tuesday after shipping guard Courtney Lee and a 2016 second-round draft pick to Memphis for guard Jerryd Bayless as part of a three-team trade that also included Oklahoma City. The Celtics also received forward Ryan Gomes from the Thunder.
"Courtney did a really good job for us scoring off the bench," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "That's what Jerryd has been very good at in his time in Memphis. He obviously had a great run last year as they went through to the Western Conference finals. He hasn't had as good of a year to start this year but he was great against us. He's a guy who can play the one and the two which gives us more flexibility at those spots."
Bayless scored six points in his Celtics debut and went 3 of 11 from the floor as Boston shot 38.5 percent as a team. Jeff Green scored a team-high 17, but it took him 19 shots to get there.
The Celtics are shooting 39.5 percent and being outscored by 14.0 points per game during the five-game skid. With games against the Clippers, Golden State and Portland remaining on the trip, Stevens recognizes it will take a considerable turnaround to head home with victories.
"Tonight's just not good enough. It's not good enough," Stevens said. "We're going to have to play really well to beat these teams on the road. Everybody's going to have to play close to an 'A' game, and that's everybody."