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Game Preview: New York Knicks at Los Angeles Clippers, December 16, 2023

In the second game of a back-to-back, New York takes on Los Angeles’ second-most popular NBA franchise.

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

On Saturday night, the New York Knicks (14-10) will play the third of a five-game road trip, this time against the sizzling Los Angeles Clippers (14-10).

When they last faced off, the Knickerbockers clipped L.A., 111 to 97, spoiling James Harden’s debut with his latest club. Los Angeles shot 34% from deep and were out-rebounded by New York, 48-31. Since then, the California boys have begun to figure things out. They come into Saturday riding the rails of a five-game win streak, and having taken eight of their last ten contests. Since November 15, L.A.’s second-most popular team has cracked the top ten for three-point shooting and averaged slightly more rebounds per game than New York. And they currently have the fifth-best defensive rating. Ty Lue’s club is no joke.

Last night, New York defeated the Phoenix Suns thanks to a career-high night by Jalen Brunson (50 points, nine triples). If he’s not huffing from an oxygen tank today, color me impressed. Meanwhile in the frontcourt, the Knicks are adjusting to life without Mitchell Robinson. With their favorite center replaced in the starting lineup by Jericho Sims, don’t expect the same rebounding differential tonight as was enjoyed back in November’s matchup. (Although, Isaiah Hartenstein has averaged 8.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and two blocks in the three games without Mitch, yet again giving strong evidence to be called the NBA’s best back-up center.)

In their last ten games, James Harden has averaged 17.9 points, 8.1 assists, and 4.5 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard has averaged 26.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. Paul George missed the last game on their schedule with a groin issue and is likely to sit tonight against the Knicks. With George out, Amir Coffey started and one can assume he will again.

Predicted Starters

New York Knicks

  • Jalen Brunson, G, this season: 25.6 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 3.8 RPG
  • Donte DiVincenzo, G, this season: nine PPG, three RPG, and 1.8 APG
  • RJ Barrett, F, this season: 19.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 2.6 APG
  • Julius Randle, F, this season: 22.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 5.4 APG
  • Jericho Sims, C, last three games: four RPG and 3.7 PPG

Los Angeles Clippers

  • James Harden, G, this season: 16.6 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 4.7 RPG
  • Terance Mann, G, this season: 6.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 2.1 APG
  • Amir Coffey, F, last game: 18 points, four boards, 4-of-11 from deep.
  • Kawhi Leonard, F, this season: 23.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 3.5 APG
  • Ivica Zubac, C, this season: 11.9 PPG, nine RPG , and 1.5 BPG


When I last checked, ESPN gave L.A. a 67% chance of winning tonight. Makes sense, because this team is stacked. Leonard and Harden are tough defensive assignments; the Clippers’ center, Zubac, is all-beef and will keep ex-Clipper Isaiah Hartenstein hustling at the grill; Russell Westbrook can still hoop and command the reserve squad. Tonight, although the Knicks will fight through three quarters, they will be exhausted after yesterday’s contest and travel, and fall too far behind midway through the fourth. New York by -8.

Game Details

Who: New York Knicks at Los Angeles Clippers
When: 10:30 pm EST, Saturday, Dec. 16
Where: Arena, Los Angeles, CA
Watch: MSG Network
Follow: @ptknicksblog