Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers Pick & Prediction MARCH 20th 2024

The Los Angeles Clippers aim to snap out of their funk when they face the host Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night in the first game of a two-game set between the teams.

The Clippers have lost four of their past five games and have fallen five games back of the top spot in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles (42-25) and the Trail Blazers (19-49) will play again on Friday night in Portland.

The Clippers reside in fourth place in the Western Conference with 15 games remaining. The Trail Blazers are already eliminated from the playoff race and have dropped seven of their past nine games.

The Clippers are coming off a substandard effort in which they lost 110-93 to the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night. Their deficit topped out at 29 points.

“If you don’t play hard and compete and you don’t take care of things you need to take care of on a nightly basis, you can lose,” Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue said afterward. “And so tonight was one of those nights.”

Kawhi Leonard had 28 points and Paul George had 26 against Atlanta. However, the Clippers were outscored 57-33 in the middle two quarters while being outclassed by the Hawks.

Leonard had 17 points in the first quarter before Atlanta made adjustments.

“I’ve got to give them credit,” Leonard said. “They started shrinking the floor and bringing in another guy towards me.”

Aside from Leonard and George, no other Los Angeles player reached double digits, including James Harden in his return from a two-game absence caused by a left shoulder strain.

Harden dished out nine assists but managed just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.

Harden was struggling with his shot even before the injury. Over his past four appearances, he is averaging 12 points on 34.8 percent shooting (16 of 46).

The Clippers are surely glad to see Portland on the slate for back-to-back games. Los Angeles is 2-0 against the Trail Blazers this season and has won the past seven meetings between the teams.

Leonard averaged 28.5 points in this season’s two victories, while Anfernee Simons averaged 28 for Portland.

Simons recorded 30 points and nine assists in the Trail Blazers’ 110-107 road loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday, and he was unable to get off a game-tying 3-point attempt prior to the buzzer. The shot missed, anyway.

Simons has scored 30 or more points four times this month, topped by a 36-point effort in a 106-102 home win against the Hawks on March 13.

Deandre Ayton had 25 points and 15 rebounds against Chicago and has scored 20 or more points in all six games since returning from a hand injury. He is averaging 26.8 points and 15 rebounds during that stretch.

Ayton has posted a double-double in eight of his past nine appearances.

Portland coach Chauncey Billups said his team didn’t do a good job sharing the ball over the first three quarters against the Bulls. Not surprisingly, the Trail Blazers were down 89-75 heading into the final frame.

A fourth-quarter turnaround in terms of ball distribution helped Portland narrow the gap.

“We found a way to start moving it,” Billups said. “Playing really quickly got us back in the game. Playing the way that we normally like to play. And we gave ourselves a chance, which was great.”

Portland has been without Jerami Grant (hamstring) for six of the past seven games, and he was listed as doubtful for Wednesday. Teammate Matisse Thybulle aggravated an ankle injury and departed in the second quarter against Chicago, leaving him questionable for Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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