Based on current form, the Los Angeles Lakers should have no chance against the LA Clippers on Tuesday night at Staples Center despite the fact that the Doc Rivers' guys are technically "visitors" in their home arena.
The Lakers have lost five games in a row and 13 of their last 14 overall. In contrast, the Clippers have won two in a row and suddenly have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin healthy less than a month away from the playoffs.
However, the Clippers are on the second night of a back-to-back, while the Lakers come in rested. In addition, the two teams have split their meetings thus far, with the purple and gold beating the red, blue and white in the previous home meeting on Christmas night.
On that holiday night, the Lakers snapped an 11-game losing streak with all five starters scoring in double figures. At the time, those starters included Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and Nick Young, all of whom expect to either be inactive or playing reduced roles.
For the first time since that Christmas night game, however, the Lakers finished with all five of their starters scoring in double figures against the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. D'Angelo Russell scored a career-high 40 points on the night, and the Lakers carry momentum into Sunday's game, even if they are still enter on a losing streak.
Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love may no longer be at Staples Center on Tuesday night, but the LA Clippers have their own healthy "big three" in D'Andre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
Against the New York Knicks on Monday, Griffin scored 30 points in 31 minutes, while Paul and Jordan both managed double-doubles in a comfortable victory. Of course, Paul's double-double consisted of assists, while Jordan's incorporated rebounds.
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For the Lakers to be successful on Tuesday, Julius Randle must use his physical style when matching up against Griffin, while Russell must follow his career night with an outing worthy of comparison to Friday night's 40-point eye opener.
Another key matchup will be 20-year-old rookie center Ivica Zubac facing the best defensive center in the NBA. Only a few days removed from being a teenager, Zubac already has more offensive moves than the Clippers' 28-year-old center, but Jordan's athleticism and experience should make for a fascinating battle between the two towering 7-footers.
More than likely, Lakers coach Luke Walton will match up Jordan Clarkson on Paul defensively, meaning Russell will need to chase and stick with sharp shooting J.J. Redick. Clarkson's attacking style, though, should work in the Lakers' favor on the offensive side of the ball.
While Randle may be a more interesting match up with Griffin, rookie Brandon Ingram expects to draw the Clippers' All-Star forward as well. Considering former UCLA Bruin Luc Mbah a Moute may possess too much strength for the 19-year-old, Ingram will need to use his length and foot speed to make up for Griffin's power from the opening tip.
After practicing on Monday, Nick Young expects to be back as an option off the bench on Tuesday. The 31-year-old, who previously played half a season for the Clippers, missed Friday night's game due to gastroenteritis.
For the Lakers to pull off an unlikely victory and snap thier five-game losing streak, the entire cast needs to play up to its potential. For the Clippers to win, they simply need an average night out of their stars.
The Lakers and Clippers tip-off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.