Two and a half weeks later, the Portland Trail Blazers will be visiting Los Angeles for a rematch of opening night against a defensive minded Clipper squad that held off a late Blazer rally. A game that will provide intriguing story lines, from Chris Paul facing Damian Lillard, to the Blazers high octane offense trying to score on the Clippers stallworth defense.
It may be only six games in, but the Clippers are only giving up 89.4 points per game. Just for comparison, the Utah Jazz are giving up the second least points at 94.4 per night, five more. Combine that with opponents shooting just 40.3%, once again, the best in the league and nearly a percent above the second placed Miami Heat. They also ranked third in turnovers forced, behind Dallas and Atlanta, second in points per shot, 10th in rebounds, second in steals and eight in assists-to-turnovers.
Take away the opening game against Portland, who scored 106 on the Clippers, the only team to reach the century mark, the Clippers are giving up just 86.3 points a contest, having held three teams to under 85 points (Utah, Memphis and Detroit), while coming off consecutive huge victories (116-92 @ San Antonio & 114-82 vs Detroit).
On the flip side, Portland has been a tough offense, behind Damian Lillard, to contain, as they ranked third in points scored per game, with 110.3, just a tenth behind Cleveland for the second slot, sixth in field goal percentage at 46.5%, third in three point percentage and second in points per shot. They have surpassed the century mark in every game, with half the eight contests eclipsing 110, albeit two went into overtime (they had already passed the century mark at the end of regulation in both contests).
Lillard is leading the way, with his MVP goals in mind, averaging 32.8 points a night on 50.6/39.7 shooting from the field and three point range respectively. He's also scored 27-or-more in every game outside of the 19 against Memphis, scoring 38+ on three occasions, including a 42 point outing in Dallas. CJ McCollum is starting to come into his own, scoring a combined 70 over the last two games on 24-41 shooting from the field and 10-18 from behind the arc.
A very possible playoff preview here, after Portland sneaked by a Paul & Griffin-less Clipper squad in 2016, this should be a very entertaining game between an elite level D and a high octane offense.