• A lot has changed for the Los Angeles Clippers since the last meeting between these teams. They sat with a record of 8-15 after getting swept in a home-and-home series with the Wolves, facing injuries to four out of their five starters and rumors were swirling that it was time to trade what they could and truly look towards the future.

    Now the Clippers are among the hottest teams in the NBA. Since these teams last met on December 6 the Clippers have a record of 15-7, including a 12-4 mark over their last 16 games.

    Injured star Blake Griffin only recently returned to the lineup, playing in 10 games since the start of December, but he’s continued his high level of play. They’re still without two other starters and Austin Rivers recently went down along with DeAndre Jordan. Their bench lacks any sort of offensive firepower thanks to the injuries forcing guys into different roles.

    The Clippers have been an odd case in that regard. They are racking up the wins, their offensive and defensive ratings have been very good in this recent stretch, but they’re doing it with a number of rookies, no-names and role players thrust into big roles.

    Their offensive rating since Dec. 6 ranks eighth in the NBA while their defensive rating ranks sixth, and that is with Griffin, Gallinari and Rivers playing in the bottom half of minutes on the team, and Beverley playing none.

    So what have they changed? The first noticeable factor is the drastic increase in pace. They went from the bottom 20 before Dec. 6 to the fastest in the NBA since. In their quickened pace they’ve moved the ball around more, unsurprisingly, but they also managed to turn the ball over fewer times.

    Limiting the turnovers alone helps the defense get set up and perhaps the quickened pace has kept the team energized. Unheralded players like Wes Johnson, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell and Jawun Evans have been excellent defenders for this team in spurts.

    None of these guys are good offensive players though, at least individually. The offense isn’t coming from these guys. In fact the offense is only really coming from one guy at this point – Lou Williams.

    Sweet Lou has been on an absolute tear in the Clippers recent turnaround. Averaging 28.1 points per game with 5.5 assists while shooting 44.9 percent from the field on 19.2 attempts, 42.0 percent from 3-point range on 8.6 attempts and 91.6 percent from the line on 7.9 attempts per game.

    He has a usage rate of 31.4 in that span, which is seventh most in the league behind guys like James Harden, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. He is the absolute focal point of the offense even with Griffin’s recent return to the lineup.

    Though between the two players there isn’t much room for other players to take shots. The interesting part about this Clippers team is that it is actually likely better off that way. The role players are content in defending at a high level, and they are inefficient offensive players anyway. This works because everyone stays in their respective roles.

    The question becomes whether this is sustainable or just a hot streak? And what happens when guys start to return? Rivers and Jordan were around when the team was floundering, perhaps they disrupt the flow of the team?

    More than likely they’ll end up cooling off when Lou Williams stops playing at an MVP level. Though for the moment that doesn’t look to be any time soon.

    Tom Thibodeau announced before the game that Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford will both miss tonight’s game with their respective injuries. The younger Wolves will once again have to step up to take down this hot Clippers team.

    Key Matchups:

    – Marcus Georges-Hunt vs. Lou Willliams

    – Taj Gibson vs. Blake Griffin

    The two main offensive threats for the Clippers are Williams and Griffin. If they are slowed down the Clips will struggle to score. Easier said than done, especially with the Wolves’ best perimeter defender out.

    Instead of Butler, Georges-Hunt will likely get the call if not at the beginning of the game then late if the game comes down to the wire. Andrew Wiggins may also get a crack at it if Georges-Hunt doesn’t start.

    As mentioned above Williams is on an absolute tear and has been among the best scorers in the NBA since December. He is able to generate points in a variety of ways. He’s an excellent shooter all around the floor, he is a strong finisher at the rim and he actively seeks contact to draw fouls where he’s a knock down shot at the line.

    He always seems to have his free throw game on point but he’s definitely a volume shooter so stopping him on the perimeter will be the difference.

    Georges-Hunt made some key plays down the stretch in the Wolves’ win over Toronto when guarding DeRozan and tonight he’ll have another opportunity to prove his worth.

    In the paint Griffin isn’t afraid to distribute the ball from the elbow, or take the ball off the dribble and score. Gibson will need to keep his feet moving and avoid fouling if possible.

    Though normally a solid shooter from the mid range, Griffin has been atrocious this year. He’s shooting just 26.7 percent from mid-range and 33.5 from 3-point range. If Griffin sets up at the elbow it would probably be best for Taj to prove he can make that.

    Lineups:

    Jeff Teague – PG

    Andrew Wiggins – SG

    Nemanja Bjelica – SF

    Taj Gibson – PF

    Karl-Anthony Towns – C

    vs.

    Milos Teodosic – PG

    Tyrone Wallace – SG

    Wes Johnson – SF

    Blake Griffin – PF

    Willie Reed – C

    Injuries:

    Jimmy Butler (knee) – OUT

    Jamal Crawford (toe) – OUT

    Patrick Beverley (knee) – OUT

    Danilo Gallinari (glute) – OUT

    DeAndre Jordan (ankle) – OUT

    Austin Rivers (Achilles) – OUT

    C.J. Williams (ankle) – OUT

    Where to Watch:

    10:30 ET/9:30 CT on Fox Sports North “plus”

Fantasy News

  • Pascal Siakam
    PF, Toronto Raptors

    Pascal Siakam led the Raptors in scoring with 36 points (15-for-28 shooting), along with six rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers on Wednesday night.

    Pascal Siakam continues to have huge games and proves that he was worth an early round pick. He contributes across the board, and the injuries to the Raptors will only provide higher upside for Siakam.

  • Norman Powell
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Norman Powell couldn't find his shot, ending the night with two points on 0-for-6 shooting, seven rebounds and two blocks against Portland on Wednesday.

    Powell got the start with Kyle Lowry out, but tonight just wasn't his night. That being said, he has provided decent out of position blocks recently, and should still be a valuable asset with Lowry out.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol racked up four blocks to go along with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers on Wednesday.

    Gasol has strung together a couple meaningful lines now and the four blocks help ease the disappointing start to the season. With Serge Ibaka sidelined by injury, Gasol has the opportunity to start working his way back to the top-100 value many were expecting.

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had his best game of the season, putting up 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, 11 boards, one assist, a block and a steal on Wedensday.

    The Raptors have caught the injury bug and Hollis-Jefferson is making the most of his time. He could be a productive streamer if OG Anunoby continues to miss time.

  • Karl-Anthony Towns
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Karl-Anthony Towns had another fantastic night, finishing with a line of 28, 11, 4 and three 3-pointers in a 129-114 win against the Spurs on Wednesday.

    This was Towns' first game without a block this season, but made up for it with two steals to his name. He continues to dominate this season and is a top-5 player.

  • Andrew Wiggins
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Andrew Wiggins continued his tear on Wednesday night, putting up 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block.

    Wiggins turned in another great game and is currently returning top-25 value. This screams sell-high opportunity as it's hard to imagine him finishing the season this high. However, if you want to ride this one out, it's hard to find fault with that either.

  • Robert Covington
    SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Robert Covington didn't contribute much on Wednesday, finishing with 10 points, five boards, and a steal.

    Covington is currently hovering around his ADP of a top-50 player, and while he had a quiet night, by his standards, he'll bounce back.

  • Jarrett Culver
    G-F, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jarrett Culver started again and contributed across the board with 12 points (6-of-10 shooting), four boards, three assists, a steal and two blocks on Wednesday.

    It's good to see the field goal percentage trending the right way and the defensive stats were a nice addition. Culver isn't worth owning outside of deeper leagues, but could be an interesting steamer if Jeff Teague goes down again.

  • Jeff Teague
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jeff Teauge returned from injury (illness) and put up 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, with six assists and two steals on Wednesday.

    Teague looked good coming off the bench in his first game back. He has been out-performing his ADP this season and is just outside the top-50. While this might regress a bit, he is off to a strong start this year and is a great source of assists.

  • Patrick Beverley
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverley had a game to forget on Wednesday, fouling out with just six points, two rebounds and an assist in 27 minutes.

    Beverley has been a tricky guy to own on the season. Though he is turning in serviceable defensive and rebounding numbers for a guard, he's not helping you with his poor shooting from the line and from the floor, and has not had the 3-point shot that has helped him hover around top-100 value in the past. He has always been more of a second half type of player, and his low usage role means that Paul George returning won't squeeze him out of potential value. He is, however, difficult to start in all settings at the moment.