The Wizards had their first go at a Los Angeles-based team in the Staples Center this weekend when they faced the Lakers on Friday night, but LeBron James and Anthony Davis took no prisoners in a 125-103 thrashing of Washington.
They’ll have another chance Sunday against a Clippers team that’s won seven of its last eight games and boasts the third-best record in the Western Conference. Both Los Angeles teams were the talk of the offseason after making high-profile additions that solidified their statuses as championship contenders.
Meanwhile, the Wizards re-signed Bradley Beal to an extension but are in rebuild mode during their first year under General Manager Tommy Shepherd. That hasn’t made them any less exciting to watch, though. Washington is among the highest-scoring teams in the NBA while also owning the league’s worst defensive rating (114.8), setting the stage for a high-scoring affair.
Tip-off is set for 10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington, with Wizards Pregame Live kicking things off at 10 p.m.
Here are the Clippers’ biggest stars to watch when the two are in action Sunday night.
The Clippers announced they were ready to contend for a title in perhaps the biggest way possible: signing the prized free agent of the offseason to a max contract. Kawhi Leonard, fresh off winning the NBA Finals with the Toronto Raptors, returned to his home state of California to help the Clippers reach the conference finals and beyond for the first time in franchise history.
Leonard has played 14 games this season, averaging 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per contest. His shooting percentage is down from last season, particularly behind the arc. After shooting 37.1% from 3-point range last season, Leonard is down to 30.1% this year. But given his status as one of the best players in the world, there’s still plenty of reason to expect a big game out of him on any given night.
Somehow, the Clippers found a way to shock the world even more than they did in acquiring Leonard when they traded for Paul George, setting up Los Angeles with one of the most prolific one-two punches in the league. George, a terrific defender who was considered an outside MVP candidate last season, came over from the Oklahoma City Thunder one offseason after signing a four-year extension.
George underwent offseason shoulder surgery and didn’t make his season debut until Nov. 14. In the nine games since, he’s posted 22.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 3.9 APG. He’s been particularly effective from the charity stripe, where he’s shooting at a 93.5% clip on free throws. When paired with Leonard on the floor, George and the Clippers are 4-1.
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