Los Angeles on Quest for Title Run
The LA Clippers continue their 2022 preseason schedule Monday when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. Los Angeles is hoping a lack of injuries and the addition of a former All-Star will help it contend in the Western Conference this season. Portland is trying to bounce back from a non-playoff season for the first time in nine seasons. These two teams can be very good offensively, though how many of the main stars for the teams that play in this game should be a big factor in how you make your bet online.
Trail Blazers Begin in Strange Position
The last time the Portland Trail Blazers didn’t make the postseason, All-Star guard Damian Lillard was a rookie. Lillard is now entering his 11th season, one that he hopes will be better than 2021-22, when he played 29 games due to injury.
Lillard’s health will determine if the Trail Blazers are going to be among the Western Conference title contenders this season, or just for the postseason. Lillard averaged 24.0 points and 7.3 assists in his limited time a season ago, but if he’s back, Portland will be much better.
The Trail Blazers added a couple of potential key cogs to their rotation in forward Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons and guard Gary Payton II from the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Both can provide some offensive punch as well as some solid play on the defensive end.
Center Jusuf Nurkic is also going to be a key for the Trail Blazer’s chances of returning to the postseason, though he’s also coming off a season-ending injury. The 28-year-old averaged 15.0 points and 11.1 rebounds but didn’t play after February due to plantar fasciitis.
Clippers Hoping for Better Luck in 2022-23
The LA Clippers have had great expectations since adding Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to their roster in the 2019 offseason. Unfortunately, the story for the team since then has been the inability to keep its superstars healthy, with Leonard sitting out the entire 2021-22 campaign and George currently out.
Leonard was hurt in the 2021 playoffs and hasn’t played since, though he’s expected to be ready for this season. He didn’t play in the Clippers’ preseason opener against RA’ANANA Maccabi but is expected to make his return to the court for this contest.
“He looked really good,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said about Leonard’s availability. “Went through everything, both practices, so it was good to see.”
Listed as out for Monday is guard Paul George. The 32-year-old averaged 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists a season ago, but the Clippers are going to be cautious with his health for now.
The new addition to the Clippers’ list of stars is guard John Wall, who was acquired in the offseason and has bookmakers putting Los Angeles among the top title contenders. Wall didn’t play in 2021-22 as he was unhappy being with the Houston Rockets, but he got his wish for a move to a contender with the deal that brought him to Los Angeles.
Trail Blazers vs Clippers Prediction
Although Leonard is expected to make his debut in this one, don’t expect it to be a long stint as the LA Clippers are going to be cautious. The Portland Trail Blazers should be healthier and closer to their regular-season rotation, and that will carry them to a win in their preseason opener.
When making your NBA picks, take Portland to earn the win.