Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons (17-23) travel to the Staples Center on Saturday, January 12, to take on the rag-tag Los Angeles Clippers (24-17). The tipoff is at 3:30 pm EST. Both teams started this season above expectations and while the Pistons are slowing as of late, the Clippers are showing no signs of stopping. The Clippers have won four of their last six including back-to-back wins vs the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. On the other hand, the Pistons have dropped four in a row, starting off their West coast road trip by losing to the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James and then losing to the Sacramento Kings. This is the first meeting in LA between these two teams since the block buster trade last year in which Blake Griffin came to Detroit for Boban Marjanovic, Avery Bradley, and Tobias Harris and a first rounder which became Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
LA Clippers guard Avery Bradley (11) drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23). Photo by: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The Clippers were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, but they are pushing into the top four in the tough Western conference. They are a ragtag group without a true superstar being led by sharpshooter Tobias Harris (21 ppg) and everyone’s favorite sixth man Lou Williams (18.5 ppg). The Clippers are one of the most interesting teams to watch this year due to their roster full of role-players. Going into this season, Clippers fans were looking already towards the offseason where they have been rumored to go after the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, or Jimmy Butler. They will have the cap space for one max contract and even space for two if they renounce all rights and due to the increase in the salary cap this offseason.
The Pistons seem to be stuck in neutral yet again. The Pistons should be making the playoffs in the spread-out Eastern conference. The Hawks, Knicks, Cavaliers, and Bulls are actively tanking, and the Celtics, 76ers, Pacers, Raptors, and Bucks are all locks for the post-season. This leaves the Nets, Hornets, Heat, Magic, Wizards and Pistons fighting for the last three spots of the playoffs. The Pistons are arguably the best of these teams but unquestionably in the top three so making the playoffs with the Coach of the Year, Dwyane Casey, double-double machine Andre Drummond, and Blake Griffin who is turning back the clock and averaging a career high 25.1 ppg and is an All-Star lock.
The Clippers are head and shoulders above the Pistons this year, so they should win this game handily. Los Angeles’ starting five should look like Gilgeous-Alexander, Bradley, Harris, Gallinari, Gortat and Detroit’s as Jackson, Brown, Bullock, Griffin, Drummond. I would predict a close game, but the Clippers should pull it out in the end. This is Blake Griffin’s revenge game, so he will probably score over 30. I’m going to predict a 121-105 Clippers victory tonight.