The Clippers are stumbling into a meaningful trip against formidable foes at a time when they are far from healthy.
A two-game losing streak has the Clippers venturing off course and now they must deal with an injury to starting forward Danilo Gallinari, who suffered a strained left glute injury in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Heat that can keep him out of Tuesday’s game against the Spurs in San Antonio.
They are already down starting guard Milos Teodosic, who remains out indefinitely because of plantar fascia on his left foot.
Amidst all this, the Clippers have to play at San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans, three teams that present big problems because of their talent.
Gallinari missed the second half of the loss to Miami, saying after the game that he could “barely walk” and that he had been dealing with the injury for the “past two or three games.”
If he is unable to play against the Spurs, the Clippers will miss the 6-10 forward’s 12.8 points per game, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
Wesley Johnson started in place of Gallinari in the second half against the Heat and is likely to be in the starting lineup against the Spurs.
But it’s not as if the 6-4 Spurs will be feeling sorry for the Clippers.
San Antonio has been without All-Stars Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps) and Tony Parker (left quadriceps tendon surgery) all season. The Spurs won’t have both of them against the Clippers, as well as reserves Joffrey Lauvergne (sprained right ankle) and Derrick White (broken right wrist).
But over the last three seasons, the Clippers have had a measure of success against the Spurs, beating San Antonio in six of the last nine games.
The Clippers will have their hands full with the 4-5 Thunder’s big three of Russell Westbrook, last season’s MVP in the NBA, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
The Clippers complete the three-game set with a back-to-back game at the 5-5 New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
New Orleans’ dominant big man duo of DeMarcus Cousins, who averages 28.6 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, and Anthony Davis, who averages 27.4 points and 12.7 rebounds, will be a tall order for the Clippers.
All of this comes at a time when the Clippers haven’t been playing their best basketball.
They started the season 4-0, but have lost four of their last five.
The offense has stalled at times and the defense has been missing at times during the course of a game.
Now, this three-game trip will test the Clippers to see what they are made of.
AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS
When: Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.
Update: The Spurs are led in most categories by big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Aldridge, a power forward, leads the team in scoring (22.4 points per game) and rebounds (8.5). Gasol, the center, leads the team in assists (3.4).