Gameday: Clippers vs Raptors, December 27

A couple of key members from the 2019 championship return.

Kawhi Leonard already received his flowers when he returned to Toronto in the 2019-2020 season. Now it’s finally Norm Powell’s turn.

Expect a tribute video and some warm moments for the man who helped us Understand the Grind.

Clippers scope (20-15, 4th in West | Offensive rating: 28th | Defensive rating: 4th)

That’s a hilarious offensive rating for a contender but the Clippers have rarely been whole this season. This is the second leg of a back-to-back for LA, who is coming off a rather unlikely win in Detroit last night. Or *cough* a perfect tank job by the Pistons.

Kawhi is slowly ramping up into his usual cyborg form. He’s played in eight games this month, averaging 20.3 points including an uber efficient 10-12 performance against the Celtics two weeks ago. Leonard is not shooting threes well (24.5 percent), but he’s 38 percent from there in his career so that should come.

Powell started slow this season (10.9 ppg on 37.7% FG before November) as he is prone to do. Since then? 16.7 points, 51 percent from the field and 42.9 from three. Basically instant offence that fuels an impressive Clippers bench when healthy.

Raptors scope (15-18, 10th in East | Offensive rating: 13th | Defensive rating: 15th)

The Raptors close out 2022 with a three game homestand after enjoying a massive vibes turnaround on their last two games before Christmas. Pascal Siakam’s 52 point game at MSG that helped snap a six game losing streak was part of the reason he won Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the fifth time in his career. Then Toronto dominated a very good Cavs team in Cleveland. The roster is getting healthier including Precious Achiuwa, who hasn’t played since November 9th but is practicing again. Things are peaking in the right direction again after a brutal two weeks. Toronto is one game ahead of Chicago for the final play-in spot.

Game Info

Tip-Off: 7:30pm EST | TV: Sportsnet One | Radio: Sportsnet 590

Clippers Lineup

They appear to have a clean bill of health.

PG: Reggie Jackson, John Wall

SG: Paul George, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Amir Coffey

SF: Kawhi Leonard, Norman Powell

PF: Marcus Morris Sr, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington

C: Ivica Zubac, Moses Brown

Raptors Lineup

Precious Achiuwa (ankle) went through most of Monday’s practice but is doubtful for this game. That is a step in the right direction though. Otto Porter Jr. (toe) remains out. Khem Birch is day-to-day.

*Do the Raptors go back to their regular starting lineup? Or is a a big inserted here? Who knows.

PG: Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton, Jeff Dowtin Jr.

SG: Gary Trent Jr, Ron Harper Jr.

SF: O.G. Anunoby, Juancho Hernangomez, Justin Champagnie

PF: Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young

C: Pascal Siakam, Christian Koloko, Khem Birch

The Line

The Raptors are favoured by five? Bizarre line to me if the Clippers are going to be whole for this one. Over/Under is 219.