Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES – (Special Preview to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – The return of Chris Paul has led to some uneven results for the Los Angeles Clippers, but they hope to produce their first winning streak since before the All-Star break when they host the Boston Celtics on Monday. The Clippers are 2-3 since Paul returned from a thumb injury after registering a 101-91 victory Saturday at Chicago.
Reserve Jamal Crawford scored 25 points and four starters reached double figures – including Paul with 17 – as Los Angeles secured its first win in regulation since Feb. 15. “I think it takes time. We’re still adjusting (to Paul being back),” Crawford told the Los Angeles Times. “But we’ll be fine.” The Celtics were just fine after opening their five-game road trip with a 20-point rout of the Los Angeles Lakers, but their visit to Phoenix on Sunday had a very different outcome. Two starters for Boston were out with injuries and All-Star Isaiah Thomas lost the ball for an ill-timed turnover in the closing seconds, leading to a buzzer-beating win for the Suns while denying the Celtics a third consecutive win.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, CSN New England (Boston), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (40-23): Thomas scored 35 points but, in addition to coughing up the ball under Phoenix’s basket in the waning moments, also missed a free throw that kept Boston’s advantage at just two points with 11 seconds to go. Al Horford (elbow) and Avery Bradley (hamstring) were absent for the loss, although the latter expects to play Monday. Jonas Jerebko replaced Horford in the starting lineup and missed all four of his shots as Boston finished at 37.6 percent, just a shade better than its season low (37.3).
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (37-25): Paul is averaging 17.2 points and 8.4 assists since his return, and he has recorded 37 assists against only six turnovers over the last four games. J.J. Redick has snapped out of a shooting slump that dominated most of February by making at least 50 percent of his shots in three of his last four games, and Crawford’s big night at Chicago came after a six-game stretch during which he averaged 7.7 points. Monday marks the final time that retiring Clippers veteran Paul Pierce will face the Celtics, with whom he spent 15 seasons and won one NBA title.
1. Pierce’s only action since the start of 2017 came in a five-minute stint during a 107-102 loss at Boston last month.
2. Celtics C Kelly Olynyk was scoreless in 22 minutes at Phoenix and is 0-of-7 from 3-point range over his last four contests.
3. Clippers C DeAndre Jordan is averaging 12.5 points on 71 percent shooting at home.