Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Bucks-Clippers Preview: Reeling Bucks Looking To End West Coast Trip On High Note


Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin works against Ersan Ilyasova during the Clippers’ matchup with the Bucks in Milwaukee earlier this season.

Who’s playing?

The Milwaukee Bucks (13-57) and the Los Angeles Clippers (49-21)

Where are they playing?

The Staples Center, Los Angeles, California.

When are they playing?

Monday, March 24. 9:30 PM ET

What’s at stake?

The answer to this one for the Bucks from here on out is going to be lottery position. Eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago, Milwaukee’s sole focus at this point has to be maintaining its current, two-game lead over the streaking Sixers for the top odds of landing the number one pick.

As almost always, Milwaukee’s opponent has much more to play for. The Clippers sit third in the West, trailing Oklahoma City by 2.5 games for second place. They’re just two games ahead of fourth-place Houston but hold a fairly comfortable four-game lead over fifth-place Portland. At this point, maintaining their lead over Golden State (5.5 games) and securing home court in the first round is top priority. Monday’s matchup should help in that department.

What happened in both teams’ last game?

Los Angeles defeated the Pistons 112-103 on Saturday for their 12th victory in the last 13 games. The Bucks fell to the Kings 124-107 on Sunday for their seventh consecutive loss.

Who’s their best player?

This one could go either way given how much Blake Griffin has progressed this season. In my mind, he’s third in the MVP race behind LeBron and Durant thanks in large part to a fast-developing mid-to-long range game. Despite Griffin’s improvement, though, containing Chris Paul is Milwaukee’s biggest concern. Paul’s numbers are up across the board this season, and he’s averaging 11.0 assists for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Over the last three games, Paul has posted averages of 24.3 points, 12.3 assists and 3.7 steals while shooting over 55 percent from the field.

Who’s hot for the Bucks?

Drumroll, please. After a 21-point performance in Sunday’s loss to the Kings, the honor goes to none other than O.J. Mayo. With Nate Wolters done for the year, Mayo took advantage of some extra minutes and may have shown just enough to warrant some additional playing time. But, honestly, who knows.

What needs to happen for Milwaukee to win?

Any combination of things amounting to the Clippers not showing up.

What’s the injury situation?

Nate Wolters (hand), Larry Sanders (face) and Carlos Delfino (foot) are out for Milwaukee.

J.J. Redick (back) is questionable but likely out.

What happened last time?

NSFW

Do they play again this season?

Absolutely not.

Projected starters

Clippers

C – DeAndre Jordan

PF – Blake Griffin

SF – Matt Barnes

SG – Darren Collison

PG – Chris Paul

Bucks

C – Zaza Pachulia

PF – Ersan Ilyasova

SF – Khris Middleton

SG – Giannis Antetokounmpo

PG – Brandon Knight

Team rankings

Clippers

Scoring: 1st (107.6)

Scoring defense: 13th (100.4)

Rebounding: 17th (42.9)

Assists: 3rd (24.5)

Bucks

Scoring: 28th (95.2)

Scoring defense: 23rd (103.4)

Rebounding: 25th (41.2)

Assists: 16th (21.5)

Leaders

Points: Knight (17.5), Griffin (24.4)

Assists: Knight (5.0), Paul (11.0)

Rebounds: Henson (7.3), Jordan (13.7)

Blocks: Henson (1.8), Jordan (2.4)

PER: Henson (17.5), Paul (26.3)

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