CLIPPERS & LAKERS LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS
This past NBA off season saw a lot of speculation about the upcoming seasonal rivalry between the two teams presently occupying the same space in downtown Los Angeles, namely the Lakers and the Clippers.
The space is Staples Center which has been the home to the Los Angeles Lakers for years, and which is currently hosting the LA Clippers basketball team pending the completion of their new facility nearby in Inglewood, which is scheduled for completion sometime before the 2024 NBA season.
The Staples Center is also home to the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League. While the Clippers are surely treated with respect, they are temporary tenants and must feel some instability there at Staples.
But the Lakers and the Clippers are both riding high 10 games into the season. The Clippers beat the Lakers in the opening game of the season. Since then the Lakers have put up an 8-2 record and lead the NBA West.
The Clippers are at 7-3 and remain without the services of small forward Paul George with a shoulder injury. Newly acquired All Star forward Kawhi Leonard is adjusting to this new team and the Clippers are expected to end the season strongly. Even so they are averaging almost 112 points per game already and are predicted to make the playoffs this year along with the Lakers.
The Lakers will take on the wounded Golden State Warriors on Wednesday evening as 8 point favorites over the defending NBA West Champs who lost to the Toronto Raptors in last year’s Finals. Actually, the Los Angeles Lakers are now the odds on favorites to win this year’s NBA Finals outright with at 25.7% chance to bring the championship back to Los Angeles.
The LA Clippers are not far behind the Lakers and are being given a 20.9% chance at winning the Finals this year. In the NBA West the next best chance goes to the Utah Jazz at only 6.5%. However, in the NBA East we find the Milwaukee Bucks on top with just a 15.7% chance. Clearly the Lakers and the Clippers are out front at this point early in the season.
With the addition of former New Orleans Pelican big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers roster, headed by LeBron James, the once storied team from Los Angeles may be once again on the verge of greatness, where they reigned for so many years during the Kobe & Shac era.
But Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are right on their heels this year, just holding on until their star forward Paul George is back on the court to propel the team into direct competition with the Lakers once again for the NBA West title and then winning the Finals.
That’s the plan anyway, for both teams. But don’t forget, the Doc Richards and the Clippers already have the tiebreaker in their back pocket against the Lakers.
Two good basketball teams are down in the ratings early in the season due to injuries to their star players. The Golden State Warriors, who have already had enough attrition from last years’ Finals team, have lost the services of All Star point guard Stephen Curry with a broken hand for the next few weeks at least. The Warriors are off to a pitiful 2-9 start without Curry.
Also, tragically for New Orleans NBA fans, the Pelicans number one draft pick, Zion Williamson, is out for 6-8 weeks with a torn MCL in his right knee. It was a tough break for the promising young basketball star, and for the Pelicans who are off to a sorry 2-8 start to the season after having such high hopes after the draft.
With lots of basketball yet to be played, we are all looking forward to some great NBA action this year, especially in downtown Los Angeles at a place known as the Staples Center.