The Los Angeles Clippers broke a quick two game losing streak Saturday with a win over the Chicago Bulls. It was a solid outing and a much needed win for the club, as they are sitting in the midst of the Western conference playoff picture. Currently in 5th place in the West, the Clippers are only a game and a half behind the Jazz for 4th, and only two and a half games ahead of the Thunder in 7th place. So, as you can see there is a lot of room for shifting amongst those middle spots in the West.
The Clippers big win on Saturday was only their second win in six games since the All-Star break. They were led by a strong bench performance from guard Jamal Crawford, who finished with 25 points. Crawford is a guy that the team relies on to keep the scoring coming with the second line and alongside Griffin and Paul. Coach Doc Rivers loves the multiple threat guard coming off his bench and being a dominant scorer when he is on his game.
The last time these two teams squared off, it was Isaiah Thomas that dropped a quiet 28 and led the Celtics to victory at home. This will need to be a concern for the Clippers, as it is understatement to say that Thomas has gotten better since the last time. Keeping Thomas under 20 should be the goal, but easier said than done.
Forcing Jae Crowder and a recovering Avery Bradley to lead the Celtics is a better option. Bradley is just a week back from a two month recovery for a hamstring injury and sat out last night’s game against the Suns to avoid playing back-to-back games. He scored 15 in Friday nights game against the Lakers and will play tonight. It is Al Horford who is the big question for Boston tonight as he injured his elbow in Friday’s game and missed last night as well. He is questionable right now and will most likely be a game time decision.
For Boston, the keys to this matchup is to stay consistent. They are currently 2nd in the East at 40-23 and only three games back of the Cavs. This is a dangerous team and they have proven it again and again; however, it is times like this during a season when you are missing key players, and not getting full minutes from others, that you need role players to step up and be more aggressive. Take extra care of the ball tonight and limit the big plays from the Clippers so that the crowd does not become a problem.
Isaiah Thomas has a chip on his shoulder this year and I love his determination. He will keep the Celtics in this one with a huge performance, followed closely by Jae Crowder who is coming off of a double-double.
My brain is telling me to pick the Clippers tonight. Blake Griffin is growing more confident with every game and Jamal Crawford is coming off of a great game so, I think this one will be just out of reach of the Celtics with an 8-point win for the home team.