Cleveland’s LeBron James guards the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant during the Cavaliers’ 120-108 victory Thursday at Staples Center. James and the Cavs will take on the Clippers on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center/AP photo by Danny Moloshok
For the L.A. Clippers, it would be nice if they could take on the Cleveland Cavaliers with Blake Griffin back in the lineup. That way they could really get an idea of where they’re at just more than a month away from the post-season.
That’s not the case, though, as Griffin has yet to be medically cleared from his partially torn left quad tendon and fractured right hand. Once he is, he’ll still have to serve a four-game suspension for punching Matias Testi, a team equipment staffer, on Jan. 23 in Toronto.
Coach Doc Rivers realizes what his Clippers will be up against when they square off with the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers (46-18), who have the third-best record in the league behind Golden State and San Antonio, Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.
“They’re tough, they’re playing good basketball,” Rivers said. “They have so many players, you know, that could make plays. And that’s what makes them dangerous. Obviously, LeBron (James), but Kyrie (Irving) and (Kevin) Love. Their other guys are playing well for them, too, so it’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”
The Cavaliers have won five of their past six after losing two in a row – at Toronto (99-97) on Feb. 26 and at Washington (113-99) on Feb. 28.
Small forward James leads his team in scoring and assists with respective averages of 24.9 and 6.6. Power forward Love is averaging 15.8 points and a team-high 10 rebounds and point guard Irving is averaging 19.8 points and 4.6 assists.
The Cavaliers defeated the Clippers 115-102 on Jan. 21 in Cleveland. Griffin did not play in that game, either, as he has not played since Christmas night against the Lakers.
The Clippers (42-22) are 25-9 sans Griffin.