After the Clippers seemingly stole Kawhi Leonard from under the Lakers’ noses – and did so by landing Paul George via trade – the race for the western conference seemingly run through the Staples Center. With LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Leonard, and George all on full display at Staples, Los Angeles could become the epicenter of the basketball world this year with multiple MVP candidates sharing a building along with two teams capable of winning an NBA title.
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Lakers and Clippers Tentatively set to Do Battle In Season Opener
While not necessarily finalized, the LA Times’ Brad Turner leaked some information that the Lakers and Clippers would not only be playing in the Christmas Day game together but that they would be starting off the year against one another. Tentatively scheduled for October 22nd, the showdown is actually set to be a Clippers home game and it should be interesting to see how the new-look Clippers can draw against their much more popular roommates.
The Lakers would like to open the season on the right note and a win over a fellow NBA Title contender and Western Conference frontrunner in the Clippers and send a message to fellow teams that there won’t be much of a “feeling out” window this season. Every loss counts – especially in the West – and as the Lakers found out last year, getting into an early hole doesn’t make for an easy climb back into the playoff picture.
The NBA schedule hasn’t yet been officially released but the opener (while tentative) marks the second showdown with the Lakers’ building mates already. There should still be a few more games to be announced when the schedule is released but as of now, the Lakers and Clippers seem firmly entrenched to do battle on basketball’s biggest regular-season showdowns.
Lakers and Clippers Still Have Remaining Roster Spots Available
Both teams still have the space to add another quality player with the last spot in the lineup. While the Lakers seem to be eyeing Andre Iguodala as a potential option – should he get bought out – the Clippers seem to be keeping their options open as well and are currently fairly thin at point guard and center.
While they have Patrick Beverly on the starting unit at point guard with Montrezl Harrell coming off the bench, the Clippers could still use a bit more depth and reliability from the other players in those positions. Ivica Zubac is the only other rostered Center and while he showed improvement last year, doesn’t look to be a key part of any playoff rotation just yet. Beverley is a ball-hawk on the defensive end and should help the duo of Leonard and George become even more dangerous on the defensive end. The Lakers also have Lou Williams off the bench at point, however, the team immediately finds themselves in a BAD situation if either of the two ends up going down with an injury.