One former NBA champion believes two California teams will represent the Western Conference in the Finals — but it won’t be the Los Angeles Clippers.
Mychal Thompson, who won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 80’s and is the father of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, believes that the two teams that will meet in the Western Conference Finals are none other than the Lakers and the Warriors.
Thompson stated that both teams remaining healthy will be the key during an interview on Sirius XM NBA Radio:
“Obviously it all comes down to good health because if they all would have stayed healthy, I think they would have swept the Raptors if they would have had everybody healthy for the whole playoffs, including DeMarcus Cousins — if he was able to play at that level. But you’re right. If we can keep LeBron and AD healthy and everybody else. I think, I’ll make a prediction right now, Warriors and Lakers Western Conference Finals.”
There might be a little bit of bias behind Thompson’s comments considering he not only played for the Lakers — he’s also a broadcaster for the team. It also doesn’t hurt that his son happens to famously play for the Warriors.
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Lakers-Warriors Playoff Matchup is a Possibility
But this isn’t a far-fetched prediction at all. The Lakers are projected to be one of the top teams in the NBA — even if ESPN isn’t too high on them — and it would be a disappointment if the LeBron James and Anthony Davis-led Lakers didn’t make it to the Western Conference Finals.
Despite having represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals over the past five seasons, the Warriors have lesser expectations. Due to the departures of key veterans such as Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston along with the torn ACL injury of Klay Thompson which will sideline him until February, nobody expects Golden State to do anything.
With that, understand this — the Warriors were a championship team before Durant’s arrival. And while the loss of two role-playing veterans in Iguodala and Livingston won’t be easily replaced, they have added an All-Star guard in D’Angelo Russell — let’s not forget he led a rebuilding Brooklyn Nets squad to the playoffs as the main cog.
Furthermore, Thompson will be back before the start of the postseason, which means the nucleus will be back together before the playoffs start. That just spells trouble for the rest of the Western Conference.
ESPN’s Forecast High on Clippers — Low on Lakers
As mentioned earlier, ESPN does not like the Lakers. The Lakers didn’t receive a single first-place vote to win the championship next season. To add further insult to the Purple and Gold, the ESPN forecast panel has the Lakers pegged to finish fifth in the Western Conference during the regular season. Yes, behind the likes of the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are predicted to win the championship with 54.5 percent of the first-place votes.
Heck, to demonstrate just how low the opinion is of the Lakers over at ESPN, the Warriors actually received more first-place votes than the Lakers as far as winning the title is concerned.
While a Clippers-Lakers Western Conference Finals series would be epic, a Warriors-Lakers matchup would be nothing to scoff at. These two teams had competitive games early in the 2018-19 season before LeBron’s injury, with the Lakers even emerging victorious on Christmas Day despite LeBron’s groin injury.
Which matchup would you rather see, NBA nation?
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