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Los Angeles Clippers  at  Boston Celtics
February 14, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET

Clippers Travel to Face Celtics

By Joel Bartilotta

The Los Angeles Clippers travel to Beantown to play the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Wednesday. The Clippers (29-26) have dealt with as much adversity as anyone since the end of last season, as this new-look roster has done a brilliant job of steadying the ship. When looking at the roster last season, it's evident how many changes there have been. Not only are the faces of the franchise in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul gone, role players like Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick are elsewhere too. That just shows how impressive this season has been, as this ragtag bunch has come together brilliantly. What those moves did do is add depth to this team, as they have numerous solid role players playing their specific roles fluently. Lou Williams is a great scorer, Danilo Gallinari is a fantastic stretch-four, Avery Bradley is an elite defensive guard and Tobias Harris is a perfect fill-in for Griffin. It may not be the same star power as before, but the pieces are there for this team to be successful. This underrated core has the Clippers within one game of the final playoff spot in the west and that would be a heck of an accomplishment for a rebuild like this. The Celtics (40-18) come into this matchup losing three of their last four games, as they're simply not the same team they were at the beginning of the season. After starting the season 34-10, Boston has gone on to post a 6-8 record across their last 14 games. The direct correlation with that slide is the loss of Marcus Smart, as he suffered a mysterious off-court hand injury in the midst of that slump. While he's not a superstar sort of player, he's arguably the teams best defense and most important player off the bench. That's a lot of roles to makeup and it's clear that the Celtics simply aren't filling the void he left. In any case, the Celtics are just one game back from the top spot in the east (Toronto Raptors), as they've put quite a bit of separation between them and the Cleveland Cavaliers (five games back). These teams have traded off wins and losses in their last six meetings, with the home team prevailing five times.

Posted on February 14, 2018 at 12:05 AM ET      Updated on February 14, 2018 at 12:19 AM ET

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