The Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers seek to enter the All-Star break on a positive note as they face off in Boston on Thursday night.
The matchup is the last for each team before Sunday’s star-studded showcase. The Celtics are looking to rebound from a 116-105 loss to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday that snapped their seven-game winning streak. Boston has won six straight at home, where it is 22-5 on the season.
The Clippers are similarly looking to bounce back after a 110-103 setback at the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. Los Angeles is 1-2 entering the finale of its four-game road trip and 15-12 away from home overall.
Thursday’s contest concludes the season series between the teams after the Celtics fell to the Clippers 107-104 in overtime in Los Angeles on Nov. 20. Jayson Tatum led Boston with 30 points in that game, while Lou Williams paced L.A. with 27 off the bench.
Tatum had a streak of nine straight games scoring 20 or more points snapped when he was held to 15 on 5-of-15 shooting in Tuesday’s loss to the Rockets. Gordon Hayward instead led the way with 20 points, and Jaylen Brown had 19 before exiting the contest late in the fourth quarter with a left calf contusion.
Brown is listed as probable for Thursday’s tilt.
“My team needs me out there,” Brown said Tuesday night. “So I’m going to try and push through it for those guys.”
Brown has been battling an ankle injury that caused him to miss a game last week and a couple more in late January. Boston as a whole has been banged up of late, with Tatum’s hot streak helping the team still win 10 of 11 prior to the game at Houston.
“There’s a lot of things that we gotta work on from this game, to learn from, but it’s not the end of the world,” Tatum said after the loss. “It’s one game. On to the next one.”
Paul George and the Clippers are of a similar mindset after their loss Tuesday. George was held to 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting in one of his worst performances of the season, but Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points to keep Los Angeles in it.
“We fought to the end,” Leonard said. “They made a push and, I mean, they played better tonight.”
Coach Doc Rivers added: “I thought we lost the game because we didn’t play with any continuity offensively.”
The Clippers are still finding their groove with forward Marcus Morris Sr., acquired from the New York Knicks prior to last week’s trade deadline. Morris scored 13 playing alongside Leonard and George against Philadelphia after putting up 10 with Leonard out in his L.A. debut Sunday.
Morris played two seasons from 2017-19 with the Celtics, averaging 13.8 points per game in that time.
For the Clippers, guard Patrick Beverley will miss his fourth straight game Thursday due to a groin injury.
–Field Level Media