It's the first national Sunday afternoon broadcast of the year, with the NFL no longer in season, and it features two teams that have done a lot of coming up recently. Both the Clippers and the Knicks have been within an arm's length of the top spot in their respective conferences for most of the season, and this is the first match-up between the two. Both teams are finally getting into a groove, as the Knicks have won five of six after stealing a victory over the Timberwolves Friday night, and for the first time all year, every player on the Clippers is healthy.
The Clippers were without Chris Paul after a bone bruise in his knee caused him to miss 12 games, including a stretch where the team lost six of eight. Backup Chauncey Billups is able to play after missing 48 of the team's first 51 games, and Grant Hill is also suited up. With everybody in the lineup, a team whose strength has been its depth is now seemingly even deeper. That said, there could be trouble for Los Angeles, as they weren't competitive in a 22-point loss to the Miami Heat, their first game with Paul and Billups back in the lineup. And as Steve Perrin wrote, their depth has seemingly faded.
The Knicks have been a strong squad for the entire season, but they do have a capability to drop games to anybody, losing to the Wizards on Wednesday night. It's not surprising for a team that lives and dies by the three, as their 29.8 attempts from long range per game is the most in the league. They have shooters - Carmelo Anthony hits his fair share when he isn't going one-on-one, Steve Novak is the specialist, and J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, and Jason Kidd are all capable of connecting from deep - but sometimes those shots don't fall, and that costs New York games.
With the Clippers' full contingent healthy, both teams will likely start the game with two point guards on the floor. The Clips come with Paul and Billups, while New York starts Felton and Kidd. The Knicks will likely put Iman Shumpert on Paul to try and temper his ability to penetrate, but its hard to stop his pick-and-roll combination with Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan. Expect some plays at the rim with Tyson Chandler, one of the league's best shot-blockers, going up against Griffin and Jordan, two explosive dunkers.
Here's the info on the game:
Los Angeles Clippers (35-17) vs. New York Knicks (32-16)
Time: 1 p.m. ET