Clippers at Raptors: Preview & 3 keys to victory

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 11: DeAndre Jordan /

The desperate Clippers visit the Air Canada Centre for the only time this season. The Raptors must play better than they did on Friday, or the result won’t be positive.

The Los Angeles Clippers come to Toronto in serious need of a win. They are in danger of losing the game of Musical Chairs which has characterized the playoff races of both NBA Conferences. The Clips are sitting tenth, but are only four losses behind fourth-place OKC.

In LA-LA land in December, Toronto dropped a dreary match by a 91-96 count. The Raptors blew a four-point lead built after 36 minutes. Kyle Lowry missed all eight of his 3-ball attempts, and had a lot of company. The team ended 7 for 29.

The Clips have been wracked by injuries. The most serious absences are those of a pair of veterans: shooting guard Avery Bradley (who arrived in the Blake Griffin trade) and small forward Danilo Gallinari.

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Los Angeles has leaned to an degree they probably didn’t want on the scoring contributions of ex-Raptor Lou Williams. He tops their ranks, even though he comes off the bench. Tobias Harris has done well since moving from Detroit. He’s a late-bloomer as a scorer. DeAndre Jordan ranks second in the NBA in total rebounds. He grabbed 17 in December, although Jonas Valanciunas held his own with 15. JV often plays his best against the best centers, and he’ll need to.

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 11: Milos Teodosic
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 11: Milos Teodosic /

Milos Teodosic blows hot and cold as the starting point guard. He’s a Euro-vet, playing his first NBA season at the age of 31. Their other guard is the coach’s son, Austin Rivers. While Rivers’ first few years were unmitigated disasters, he’s become a respectable pro by dint of hard work.

Montrezl Harrell looks like a nasty interior presence for years to come. He and Sweet Lou will make the Raps’ bench bunch crank up the volume to 11.

3 keys to Raptors victory

  1. Box out Jordan. JV and Serge Ibaka must be aware of him without fail. The Clips grabbed 14 more boards than Toronto in December. While Jordan isn’t prone to foul trouble, the Raptors chances will be greatly enhanced if he is forced to sit down early. Go at him.
  2. Defy Lou to get to the hoop. That means getting beaten on the perimeter on occasion. Sometimes hoops can be too macho (“I’m not calling for help – I’d rather back off.”) Nuts to that. Williams has proven he make shots from everywhere if he gets any space at all. Don’t give it to him.
  3. Attack. Like Brooklyn, the Clippers don’t have a lot of paint presence. Jordan doesn’t block or change as many shots as his size and hops might suggest.


The Clippers are going to throw all their weapons at the Raptors. They have a balanced attack, a veteran coach, and a deep team.

Toronto escaped that sad effort against Brooklyn partly because the Nets didn’t hit their free throws. The Raps will need to be better.

Toronto 115 – Clippers 111